I have a tendency to arrive to any airport over two hours early for my scheduled flight. The paranoia of getting caught up in security lines rarely crosses my mind. Though I’ve had my baggage searched, my shoes inspected, and my film canisters questioned, the hassle has no hold over the amount of time I continually schedule for arrival. I have also tried private charter flights that are much more convenient and are less populated as compared to all other flights. Which is why they are still my preferred mode of traveling.
Airports are fascinating microcosms. From curbside check in to the bathrooms the scene is sterile. Most airports I’ve been though allow you to check in by the warm friendly glow of a computer screen. The awkward human interaction with a desk clerk has been replaced by a few touches to a sensored screen that asks you politely if you have been keeping an eye on your luggage and if it is free of suspicious items. The bathrooms sinks are sensored, the paper towel dispenser gives up the goods for a wave in front of a tiny blinking light, and occasionally even the soap has been hurtled into the digital age. The closest you can ever come to human contact is the lady that waves a wand over your body to confirm that you’re wearing anunder wire bra and not packing heat.
I found out while traveling alone from Chicago to LA several years ago that airports are a fantastic place to observe people. Those looks of anticipation on people’s faces waiting at the bottom of the escalator in baggage claim. Getting to see when the traveller finally sees that face in a crowd that they are coming home to, is wonderful. The running hugs are the best to witness. There is somethingcathartic about observing the people coming and going. Be it arrival or departure these moments change people and there is something amazing about getting to see that.
If you are planning on travelling in the US, here’s some poignant advice:
If you purchase weapons abroad you can put them in your checked luggage. You can generally put ANYTHING in your checked luggage except for items that might go up in flames or explode. Swords, hatchets, throwing stars, and cricket bats are alright by the Transportation Security Administration. Good advice for the ninja on the go!
Carry on luggage is quite a different story. The rules regarding what you may actually take on the plane with you are ever changing and should be checked before you start packing. Currently, the TSA has instituted the 3-1-1 rule. A traveller is allowed 3oz. or less containers of liquid or gel (usually eye drops for contacts), a 1-quart size clearziplock bag containing several 3oz. or smaller bottles of liquid/gel (lots of different brands of eye drops), and only 1 of those bags allowed per traveller. For further current information check out the TSA website.