Travel Today

Holiday Travel

For some odd reason the Beatles song “Back In The USSR” was echoing in my head as I prepared to travel to Miami for the Miami International Boat Show. Specifically the “Flew into Miami Beach, BOAC…” verse.

Strange how the mind works. It wasn’t the Miami Beach part of the song that caused the song to run through my brain, it was the USSR part. Nowhere am I reminded more of the former Soviet Union as when I am passing through a TSA checkpoint. The fact that we have become so numbed to the invasiveness of the process we have to go through in order to board an airplane startles me.

There was some good news, TSA-wise. I now know that, should I live to the age of 75 or older, I’ll no longer be required to remove my shoes before going through the scanner. The bad news is that the full-image body scanners they said were being removed from all airports are still being used, at least at PVD and MIA.

Next week I fly from Boston to Amsterdam to Madrid to Las Palmas, Canary Islands on Saturday/Sunday. Then back to the U.S. via Madrid-JFK-BOS-home. I will be interested in comparing and contrasting the different security styles as I pass through several Eurozone countries. The best I’ve ever seen is in England, where polite strangers engage you in conversation, seemingly interested in your trip. They’re so disarming that you don’t realize you’ve been thoroughly interrogated until, at the end of the conversation, they ask you for your travel documents and you realize you’ve been through a security screening. It beats the “Get yo laptops out your bags, get everything out yo pockets” spiel that the TSA screams at you as you stand in the never-ending lines of fellow sufferers.

And while I’m bitching, allow me to share my thoughts on Miami International Airport. What. A. Terrible. Airport. Confusing signage, rude airline ticketing staff, huge lines, high prices….its all there in spades. And the crowds react as expected. Everyone is pissed off, and while most suffer in silence, I heard at least one person venting, and while I thought the guy was behaving like a douche, I understood his frustration.

One last complaint, and an admonishment to those who fly. Listen to the gate attendants when they tell you to wait until your section has been called before approaching the gate. It helps not one bit when you and your immense carry on bag block access while the rest of us try to get on the plane. OK, two last complaints. Carry on means a small bag that fits in the overhead, not a trunk-sized behemoth that you can’t lift or fit into the overhead without help. And don’t drop the frigging thing on my head as you wrestle it out of the bin at the end of the flight. During this trip it made me happy, no delighted, to see gate staff force people with oversized carry ons to check their bag as they boarded the aircraft.



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