Can there be too much and too little airport security for the same flight?
It all started in Morocco at 7 o’clock this morning, when I was dropped off at Casablanca airport in time for my flights back to Vancouver, via Montreal.
Before even entering the departure hall my entire luggage was x-rayed. However, not everyone put all their bags on the conveyer belt. The chap at the screen was bantering with his buddy, so I imagine that the odd piece of luggage would have escaped his scrutiny.
Once inside Mohamed V airport I checked in my suitcase and headed towards the departure gate. But not before navigating another security checkpoint. No need to remove laptop or liquids – just my shoes!
The next hurdle was passport control with yet another security check. On one side there was a long lineup, but no-one lined up at the ‘priority’ line. So I gave it a try…and they let me in. The official threw a quick glance into my overnight bag and waved me on. My large handbag, containing my purse and water bottle was ignored.
After confirming my official departure from Morocco with another stamp in my passport, I made it to my departure gate 10 minutes before boarding time.
And this is where Africa met Morocco! The entire plane-load of passengers was being herded into a small cordoned-off area by two very annoyed officials, who were barking orders at the top of their voices in Arabic and French. All I got was ‘Security, Security’. An adhoc security checkpoint had been set up specially for our flight – 40 minutes before takeoff!
With only two officers manning some hastily erected folding tables, the line of anxious passengers moved at a snails pace. And just when I’d kissed my connecting flight to Vancouver good-bye they opened the floodgates and allowed dozens of people to bypass the checkpoint. Oh, but then they stopped us again – pulled out some passengers for random inspections – and let the rest of us go through unhindered. An exercise in futility!!!
We managed to take off with just a small delay and after an uneventful and smooth flight we landed in Montreal, right on time. But wait – the loading bridge was out of order and all passengers had to be disembarked from the rear! A crazy hybrid of Tundra buggy/lift/bus literally picked us off the plane. There are no stairs to get off the Boeing 767, so it was this or the emergency slides.
After this time-consuming adventure I found myself in front of a passport officer, who decided to assert his power and draw a fat red line on my customs declaration form, because I was importing a bottle of olive oil – or perhaps it was because of my broken French?
I collected my suitcase, and – approaching the customs checkpoint – was having visions of my baggage being searched and my flight to Vancouver leaving without me. Luckily the customs official waived me through without giving me a second glance.
Time for yet another security check with the typical long lineup. Let’s try the priority option again… Bingo! and this time I could keep my shoes on, but had to remove my watch – go figure!
As I am writing this from my window seat high above Lake Superior, I am very grateful for my safe travels. But I do ask myself – 5 security checks, all with vastly differing standards… was that too much and too little security at the same time?