Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Airport Security

Many of you know that my family was able to come to Turkey to visit us for Christmas. We were really excited to have all of them here and counted down the days for 2 months! When the day finally came for them to arrive Brian, a friend of ours, and I went to the airport to pick them up. We needed two vans because there were 11 people coming plus many pieces of luggage. My family was going to be coming in, going through the visa line, and then going to pick up their luggage. They were allowed two pieces of luggage per passenger plus a carry-on apiece. That makes for a lot of bags! The airport here is not designed to be "passenger pick-up friendly". For security reasons the people waiting to pick up passengers have to wait outside in a covered waiting room. The day that my family arrived was the first big snow of winter. It was freezing in the waiting room. I decided that while I was waiting I would go into the departure area to use the restroom. I had to take off my heavy coat and put it and my purse through the security screening. I walked through the metal detector and it started beeping. I went back out, took off my belt, shoes, watch and emptied my pockets into a container and walked back through the metal detector. It beeped again. I was frisked by a nice security lady who decided the metal button on my jeans wasn't a threat and then I proceeded to gather all of my stuff. After going to the bathroom I went back outside to the waiting room to wait. When I saw that my family's plane had landed I began to watch through the exit only, sliding glass door for them to walk by on their way from the visa line to the luggage pick-up area. This is not an easy thing to do because there are usually 30 other people trying to see through this door as well and to make things more difficult the door is covered with a dark mylar coating to make it shatter proof. This not only makes is hard to break it also makes it very hard to tell who the people are on the other side. There is a small clear circle the size of a salad plate in the middle of the door for your viewing convienence. It doesn't help much. As soon as I saw what appeared to be my family I thought that I would try to go into the airport to help them with their luggage and get them through customs. When someone approached the door from the other side it opened and I slipped in. There was a guard standing there and he wanted to know what I needed. I explained to him that I had 11 guests arriving from America and that they didn't know any Turkish. I pointed to my nieces and nephew and seeing small, cute, light haired, light eyed children he took pity on them and let me go help. After getting 6 large trunks, 14 suitcases plus a boxed Christmas tree we headed over to customs. The customs official looked at our many carts of bags and didn't know what to say. He looked at the picture on the Christmas tree box and asked if there really was a tree in the box. I think at this point he started to sweat. My dad had used those convenient plastic ties to "lock" the trunks so that the lids did not come off during transport but so that they were easily accesible for any inspection that anyone chose to do at any point during the trip. After explaining to the nice customs man that my family had brought a Christmas tree, gifts, special food from America, and the clothing they needed for their trip he said that he would only open one of the many pieces of luggage. He decided to look in one of the trunks, but he needed a knife to be able to cut the plastic tie. He pointed to an office about 30 feet away and told me to go ask the man at the desk for the knife in the top drawer. I was a bit confused but went over to the office he pointed to. The man at the desk said he didn't have a knife so I told him that the man at the customs booth said it was in the top drawer of the desk. He opened the drawer and pulled out a steak knife! Then he handed it to me and I proceeded to walk back through the airport carrying a steak knife. All I could think of was that the waiting room was outside the airport for security reasons. There was mylar coating on the windows for security reasons. There are very sensitive metal detectors at all of the entrances for security reasons. But, they will give me a knife once I am inside...no problem!



Hey Dixons,

We know exactly what "salad plate sized" hole in the mylar you are talking about at the airport! Great story...

Robert and Amanda

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