May 03 2016

Is it security theater? Or is it Italy?

I recently returned from 5 days in northern Italy … one of those very rare occasions when I was able to combine a business trip with a bit of leisure due to my Swede being up against a “use it or lose it” deadline on some vacation days. Mix in fact that the weather was still cold & crappy in Sweden last week and that Dr. Darling had never been to Italy before, and it was kind of a no-brainer.

We are both pretty savvy travelers, but I freely admit that I tend to relax and let my guard down a bit when I’m on-the-road with my Swede, who is not only hyper-organized but also seems to possess some kind of built-in GPS. (Among my American friends and family, she’s regularly referred to as “Magellan.”) I had finished up my work responsibilities mid-afternoon on Friday, so by the time we arrived at the airport for the flight home on Sunday, I was pretty relaxed.

But Aeroporto di Bologna-Guglielmo Marconi harshed my mellow” pretty quickly. Here’s why:

1) Even if you’re already checked in (which we were) with only carry-on bags (which was all we had), you have to see an agent in order to get a boarding pass printed … but there is no signage or instructions for where this specific queue is located, so you end up mixed in with everyone who needs to check in and check luggage … which is a big problem if you haven’t allowed time for it.

2) You have to scan your boarding pass to enter the security area and then scan it again when you start the carry-on luggage check, but there is no signage of any kind explaining this, and apparently no staff willing/able to inform you of it in English.

3) With the 2nd scanning of the boarding pass … your “carry-on suitcase” goes on a conveyor belt and passes through some sort of box (maybe to check for size/weight … it’s not clear), but your small personal item (backpack or purse) stays on your shoulder until you are reunited with your luggage on the other side of this first box.

4)  It’s at this point that you are to take all electronics (and I suppose, liquid toiletries … again, there are no signs or instructions or anyone around who will speak English with you) out of your bags and put them in trays to pass through the x-ray machine … which is confusing in the moment because you think your suitcase at least has already passed through some kind scan. The suitcase & your backpack are also sent through the x-ray machine at this time.

5) You then walk through a metal detector before rejoining all of your belongs on the other side of the x-ray machine … including the small liquid toiletries that you have accidentally left in your carry-on bag in the confusion, but for some reason have NOT been detected.

Or maybe the security officer scanning the bags did notice and just didn’t care? I’m the first person to admit that most of the dance one has to do in order to get on a plane these days is theatre. Whether my tiny bottle of conditioner goes through the x-ray machine from inside my carry-on luggage or separately in a clear plastic bag has no impact what-so-ever on my safety or that of my fellow passengers. Maybe the Italians are just acknowledging that?

But they could still put up a couple of signs.

Feed my ego!

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