A couple of weeks back when I took a flight from Liverpool to Amsterdam I had my shower gel, moisturiser, and facewash taken from me by security after my bags had passed through x-ray and I’d passed through the metal detector.
I had placed my toiletries into a clear-ish polythene bag that I’d tied a knot in. Okay, so that’s not the fancy resealable plastic pouch that they show in the security notices, but I could undo the knot and re-do it again, so I had figured it would be okay. Not so. The guy called me aside and with a sigh I said “I had a feeling this was going to happen.”
Of course, I was talking about the reams of electrical equipement I had in my bag – the PSP, the charger for it, the camera and it’s charger, and my phone and the charger for that, too. Plus a NegCon game controller for the PlayStation. I was pretty sure they were going to balk at all that as it went through the x-ray machine.
“You cant take these items on the plane, sir.” The security guy said as he pulled my toiletries out of the side pocket of my bag. “They aren’t in a clear, re-sealable bag, and the only one I could let you away with if it was in a clear, re-sealable bag is the facewash, but even that’s 10ml over the 100 ml limit.”
I thought he was taking the piss, I really did – they were brand new bottles of Simple moisturiser (125ml) and King of Shaves facewash (110ml), branded, unopened, and about as far from plutonium as you could get.
“What am I going to make with those?” I asked, “A clean bomb?”.
He responded with a palms open shrug that sort of suggested he understood where I was coming from, then ruined it by saying “You could just buy them again when you’ve cleared security, but I’ll have to dispose of these for you.”
“Buy more?! What’s wrong with those ones. Okay, the shower gel is way over the limit – that was an oversight, but the other two are brand new – the moisturiser and facewash are sealed.” I protested.
He offered to let me back through security so I could go and fetch a clear, re-sealable plastic container to put the facewash in and he’d let me through with that. I declined, having already stood in a fifteen minute queue I wasn’t going to miss a £100 flight for £12 worth of toiletries.
“No. You better throw it in the bin before it takes us all out.” I sulked.
Three days later and I’m in Schiphol airport on my way back through securty with toiletries I’d bought in Amsterdam to replace the ones I’d lost in Liverpool. I’d been told by a lady in a shop that I could acquire one of those clear, re-sealable (and bombproof) plastic bags at the gate. Banking on that I made my way to security and stood in the queue. Frustratingly, I could see no sign of the bags of which she spoke.
I placed my bag on the conveyor for the x-ray machine and unzipped the pocket to reveal my new toiletries – two bars of organic soap, some toothpaste (110ml – risky) and got ready to watch the lady dispose of them.
“Just small toiletries?”
“Yes.” I nodded.
“That’s fine.” She said, smiling me through.
Wow. I mean, I know Amsterdam is meant to be laid back but, gee, what a cataclysmic breach in security this was. In Liverpool they’re protecting our freedom from any potential toiletry related jihad, but in Amsterdam they’re literally carrying the explosives onto the plane for you.
At least I know not to risk brand new stuff that’s close to the wind in terms of volume in future, but I suppose I should get used to more random security enforcement when I travel to America.