There had to have been four Boeing 777’s and Airbus A380’s worth of passengers to arrive at Heathrow at just about same time from various points of the globe. We were shuffled to the same security checkpoint (not customs) with a whopping four metal detectors. (Yes, one metal detector per 500+ passenger plane.) Tempers flared. It didn’t help that we had to walk about a mile from our gate to the security checkpoint. It certainly didn’t help that the area wasn’t cordoned off so it was literally a free-for-all with everyone pushing to get through as quickly as possible. OK, back to the liquids.
I noticed more and more little bottles and containers scattered on the floor as I inched forward toward the metal detactors shoulder-to-shoulder with 2000 other weary travelers. I also noticed banners spaced about every 10 feet that stated no liquids of any amount were allowed past that point. Now you may remember from Part 1 that I had a Zip-Loc with my stash of creams, pastes, lotions, balms, pomades and other emollients in my carry-on. I decided to take my assortment of liquids on-board since my checked bags always get lost. I need my creams. My skin gets thirsty and painfully dry when not routinely moisturized and let’s just say I don’t trust European dental hygiene products. (Is “European dental hygiene” an oxymoron?) I was sure my 3 ounces-or-less bottles were exempt since the FAA & TSA in the USA all gave me the A-OK. I was wrong.
I got to the point of no return — where the last in the long line of agents implored us to remove all liquids from our baggage. I broke down and finally asked her, “Does that apply to small bottles like the ones I have here as well?” I was holding up the mass of testy travelers behind me and looking like a jackass with a Zip-Loc full of bottles and tubes clearly bigger than many of the hundreds I had passed which had been thrown to the floor by their owners. I was in my “The rules don’t apply to me. I’m American!” mode and wasn’t discarding my liquids without a fight. After a short pause, she politely and almost apologetically said, “Yes, I’m afraid it does.” She then pointed with her chin to the garbage can on her right.
Seeing all the bottles on the floor I briefly considered an act of civil disobedience. I thought about just tossing the entire bag to floor at her feet as a feeble symbol of protest against the British regime. I would make it my own modern-day Crispus Attucks moment. A few things made me reconsider:
- The agent probably couldn’t care less what I did with my baggy;
- That mob of people behind me was becoming restless;
- I was in London, not Boston, and we all know what happened to Crispus.
Those damned Brits! Paul Revere didn’t let them get the best of him so neither would I. In an uncharacteristic act of defiance, I unzipped the bag then tossed each bottle into the garbage one-by-one. I then re-zipped the bag and put it back into my carry-on. They may have taken my liquids but they weren’t getting my baggy. Take that!
I plodded through the line for another 30 minutes passing even more discarded bottles and tubes the entire way. (I guess there were others, probably Americans, entertaining civil disobedience even longer than I.)
On the other side of the checkpoint, I headed to the Iberia Airlines ticket counter to get my boarding pass for my London-Barcelona leg. This would be my first time flying Iberia and the airline’s name made me think of Siberia which, at least in the U.S., has long represented a place no one wanted to go. It turns out the airline borrows its name from the Iberian Peninsula (geography lesson of the day…check!) However, from my experience, flying Iberia Airlines is a lot like going to Siberia: Something you should never want to do.