Look, all they want to do is take your shoes off, pat down your genitals, rifle through your personal belongings, then pack you like sardines into a flying death tube. What’s wrong with that?
This piece is based on a Quora Question. Link on the last page.
1/10. I was 16, flying across the country to see some family. It was my first flight alone, so I was quite nervous. I was seated in between a rather large man and a teenage boy around my age. Because I had gotten ready so quickly that morning, I hadn’t noticed how tight my bra straps were placed. Women can probably relate; it’s that burning feeling where the circulation to your shoulders is being cut off.
Obviously I didn’t want to be uncomfortable for this long flight, so I tried adjusting them, but it was difficult to do without elbowing the guys next to me. Wanting to be polite, I waited until the restroom was vacant so I could go in and have plenty of room to adjust myself.
Once I got to the restroom, I was still struggling to adjust the straps. They were so tight and twisted so I decided to take my shirt and bra off. I held my bra and finally got the straps fixed.
Just as I was about to put it back on, the door of the restroom swung open. Evidently the lock was not locked. An older man and a flight attendant stood in front of me.
I could have done many things to save myself from complete embarrassment. Yet I panicked. I screamed, which caused nearly everyone on the plane to look in my direction.
Then, I went out of the restroom to pull the door closed and I froze. Literally everyone had their eyes on me. More specifically, on my bare chest. I then pulled the door shut and had somewhat of a panic attack. ‘How am I going to walk out there and recover from this?’ I thought.
Eventually I had put my clothes back on and decided it was time to come out. Walking down the aisle to my seat was excruciating. The older ladies were judging me, many men were giving me rather creepy looks. The teenage boy I sat next to kept eyeing me. Not my best moment.
2/10. In 1999, I had landed a job as a cast member in Walt Disney’s World on Ice, a show that was touring in South America at the time. I was 19 years old and it would be my first time leaving home alone.
She wanted to make sure that I was well-prepared for my journey, so she insisted on helping me pack. For the most part this was welcomed, but we hit a sticking point when she told me it would be wise to carry laundry detergent in my bag. (continued…)
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“No, Mom,” I argued, “there will be places to wash clothes there.” Well, my argument fell on deaf ears, and into my luggage went about a pound of powdered Tide, packed neatly into little plastic baggies.
After a brief connection and an even more brief flight from Sao Paulo to Montevideo, I claimed my baggage and went through customs. Nothing to declare, thought I. Not so fast, thought the immigrations official with a machine gun.
As he began to rifle through my overstuffed suitcase I saw it… the powdered-filled corner of one of my little plastic baggies. Not one split second later, he saw it too. I looked at him, he looked at me and an unspoken “WTF” hung in the air…
It’s worth mentioning at this point that I don’t speak Spanish. Not fluently, not conversationally, not even haltingly.
He starts quizzing me en Espaol, on what exactly it is that I’m trying to pull on him. Of course, he assumes its cocaine. I was left to frantically mime the concept of washing clothes to a guy with a loaded assault rifle.
Fortunately my miming was on point and he finally got it. I heard him laughing like a hyena as I, red-faced, made my way out to the taxis.
Needless to say, the little baggies of white powder got thrown in the trash the minute I got to the hotel! I had my laundry done by a nice lady that ran a service right around the corner, and never once felt the sting of my missing detergent.
3/10. I always used to carry a penknife in my pocket, and over the years I moved up in size from a small single blade, to a Swiss Army knife and then eventually to a Leatherman multi-tool.
This wasn’t a problem for many years, but come 9/11 the world changed, and there was no way on earth that was going on a plane. I was traveling JFK to LAX, so I took the knife out of my pocket, and put it into a bag I was planning to check the bag at the airport.
But when I got to the airport, I had completely forgotten about it so I just blithely went through security. (continued…)
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This was not long after 9/11, so security was extremely tight,but somehow, some way, the X-ray screener missed the knife in the bag, and I walked on through (having otherwise divested myself of everything down to my socks.)
I’m sitting in the gate area waiting for boarding, when I idly look around, and notice a SECOND security screening process right next to the gate,with another X-ray machine and what looked like anti-terrorist troops.
I suddenly remembered that I’ve got this giant knife in my bag! I was really in a bind trying to figure out what to do.
If I do nothing and they catch the knife during the second, intense, screening (which they will), I’m dead meat.
If I tell them I accidentally got the knife through the first screening, they’ll realize they have a potential security hole and will almost certainly re-screen every passenger on the plane.
If I sneak the knife out of the bag and drop it in a trash can, it will be found by a cleaner in a secure area, and probably result in a terminal lock down!
As I’m sitting there in a cold sweat, I realize I have only one course of action: I go back out all the way past security to the main concourse to ditch the knife. But I can’t even throw it away! (Remember that point about the cleaner finding a stashed knife?)
So I wander around the the terminal asking every employee I see, “hey, how’d you like a $60 multi-tool as a present?”
I finally get some happy-but-bewildered-looking guy to take it off my hands, as I sadly went back through security a second time…sans knife.
-David S. Rose
4/10. I’d been a stewardess on the verge of retirement two years ago, working with an unpopular airline. Last to last year, upon seeing me, a young passenger got up from his seat as the plane took off and loudly said, “Madam, please take my seat. At this age, you shouldn’t be standing.”
In revenge, I grabbed his seat and made him stand for around fifteen minutes, when he awkwardly apologized and asked for his seat back.
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5/10. I was at the Dubai airport waiting for my flight to Bangalore when a flight crash landed. I and my co-passengers started having deep conversations about how or why the plane crash landed and caught fire, to a point where we started blaming Boeing for their design faults in our theories.
It so happens that I noticed a person sitting right next to us and listening to quite carefully. I asked what his opinion was, and he nonchalantly replied I really cannot say anything as it seems to be a very complex issue. Unimpressed the rest of us then carried on with our armchair investigation.
Later on when asked what he does for a living. He replies, “I work as a design engineer for a small aerospace company called Boeing.”
6/10. I visited Italy when I was 16, and one of the places our tour group visited was the ruined Roman city of Pompeii.
In Pompeii, one of the curiosities is the fact that many of the houses have penises engraved on their front doors. Apparently, it was seen as a symbol of manhood and good fortune.
Because of this, there were also a number of novelty carts that sold giant metallic penis figurines. Being 16, I thought this was hilarious, and decided to buy a bunch for all my friends back home.
It never really occurred to me that giant metal penises might look funny when they ran my bag through the the x-ray machine at the airport. At least not until I saw all the security staff crowded around my bag, watching the screen as they ran it through for the third time, laughing wildly.
7/10. I had reached the airport of Rome well in advance that morning. I had plenty of time before my departure and I thought it was a great idea to check-in immediately, go to the gate and dedicate myself to the work I was supposed to present the following day.
All the other passengers were arriving in dribs and drabs, and their chatter in the background was the most reassuring hint that I hadnt been left behind.
I got lost in my work, so I don’t know how it happened. (continued…)
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Suddenly, all the noise had disappeared.
I raised my eyes from the laptop and realized that the hall was empty. The gate closed. Panicking, I rushed towards the ground hostess that was about to leave, imploring her to let me board that flight.
“Sorry, sir, too late. The gate is closed, and the plane is full, anyway.”
“How is that possible?” – I replied- “True, I was working…but nobody called me out…”
“You mean…that you have your boarding pass?!”
“Sure…here it is!” said I, with a glimmer of hope.
“What?!Wait…is your bag onboard?!”
“Why, yes…my bag is on the aircraft!”
Within sixty seconds, they had stopped the airplane, which had already started towards the runaway, and a staircar had driven me straight out there like I was a Secret Service officer or something.
While entering the cabin through the doorway, I passed in front of a tall, elegant and pissed off passenger, who was shouting to two stewards.
“Now you guys must explain to me why the f*** I have to get off this f****** plane!”
Oh god! I realized I was responsible for getting that guy thrown off the plane at the last second! I quietly slunk to the empty set. It was still warm.
8/10. The TSA pulled a bottle of really nice shiraz out of my laptop bag. She gave me a funny look. I blushed and said, “Oh, I’ve been looking for that.”
They also seized a big spoon I had been carrying around to enjoy convex reflections with while drawing. Too bad I wasnt allowed to keep either so I could have themselves a table spoon of wine party.
A few years later my boyfriend bought me a ticket and marked my meal as being vegan. At the gate, it had translated to special needs and I was met with a wheelchair and an attendant.
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9/10. I was flying from the states to Dubai via Frankfurt.
My father was flying to Dubai from London.
Normally my dad gets a direct flight from London and we assumed he would be on a direct flight (for some reason Emirates had cancelled his earlier flight and he has a flight via Frankfurt).
We were both on different airports, and we were both unaware of each other’s flight plans.
Now my dad had a short connection at Frankfurt (less than 30 mins). The staff at the airport was announcing his name.
The announcement was something like: “Passenger (last name), please head to gate no. XYZ immediately.”
Now I was like I’m at my gate already what happened.
Anyway I reach the gate and identified myself as the said passenger. They asked for my id and were surprised because the passenger had already boarded.
They confirmed I was flying to Dubai but were perplexed why I had a Lufthansa boarding pass and not an Emirates one.
The flight was about to start taxi-ing when they stopped it and asked the passenger to be offloaded.
And there I see my father. The staff was rather annoyed that I didn’t tell them my father was onboard and that there was no reason for confusion.
The good part was we flew together!
10/10. I accidentally showed up at the airport in a bikini underneath a giant winter coat, forgetting I would have to remove the coat for security check.
I used to fly between Canada and Hawaii pretty often. One time (and thank God, only one time) I was rushing back to the airport and I figured I’d just change into my snow-clothes when I got to my hotel in Canada. So I just threw my snow jacket on and I totally forgot about the security check.
Luckily my departure was from Hawaii, where everyone is extremely nice/easy-going, so I just explained (awkwardly), there’s nothing under my coat, and they arranged for a different screening option.
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