If you travel a lot, all sorts of things will happen to you. Sometimes getting somewhere can be more exciting and interesting than actually being in a foreign country. And since I’ve done my fair share of miles via air, land and sea ((I have neither been to the Halls of Montezuma nor the shores of Tripolis)) I’ve also had the occasional hiccup ((flights cancelled, not been on the list to be picked up at the airport or had to take a detour)) in my travels.
In the end everything always turned out fine, but still, having to improvise, not knowing whether you will reach your destination in time, have all your baggage always adds a thrill to any trip.
This particular flight in 2006 from Luxembourg to Manchester via London was special, even for me. It was my first (though not my last) time with that airline. They use those pretty blue Fokker 50 planes. On this route you will fly into London, land at the City Airport, get out, go through customs, get back into the same plane, maybe a different seat and fly on to Manchester. Theoretically.
Arriving at the airport in Luxembrough I went to the check-in counter, slapped my electronic ticket print-out on the counter ((in a polite way)) and was handed my boarding pass. It looked just like they all do, a slim cardboard rectangle with a part you’d keep with you for the rest of the flight after boarding. I checked my bag, went through security and got on the bird. Cabin crew was nice, we got candy and something to drink.
Upwards and onwards!
Upon landing in London the crew advised us to gather all our belongings and cabin luggage and go through customs, but not to try and get our checked baggage. That would remain on the plane. So far so good, I made my way through the airport and to the security check to get back on my plane.
I was a regular flyer back then ((gosh, has it really been 8 years?)) so I stuffed my belt, watch, cellphone and wallet into my jacket and walked towards the metal detector, flashing the part of my boarding pass ((which said Manchester via London City)) and my passport.
The impressive but friendly-looking security guy stopped me and said: “Sorry, but you need a bording pass. A transit pass. Please check if you have one in your pockets or bag!”
I looked at him, my facial expression not broadcasting any intelligence for a moment. I did tell the security guy that I only had the slip from my previous flight and this e-ticket print. And an email confirmation. He told me again: “You need a boarding pass.” Being my usual cooperative self I stepped aside, letting people pass and made a show of going through all pockets and my bag.
After two minutes of rummaging he suddenly asked me:
Are you on transit?
Yeah, sure, like I said. Manchester via London.
He waved me through. Ok, then. X-Ray, metal detector, not even a pat-down. I did look very harmless back then, I suppose. They do take a look in my carry on, but there’s only a camera and a book in there.
I grabbed my belongings, put belt and watch back on and went to the airline counter at the gate. People had queued up and I didn’t want to feel left out. After a few minutes, boarding had already started, it was my turn. I handed over the slip of my boarding pass, and the young woman said, friendly: “Sorry, I need to see the other boarding pass”, motioning the size and shape with her hands.
I explain that this and the email confirmation is everything I have. I did not get anything else in Luxembourg.
Her colleague got a serious look on his face, turned towards me and asked: “How did you get through security check? Please check again if you have your boarding pass, this is really important.”
So I tell him about my security experience.
I also want him to see that I am neither dumb nor stubborn, so going through my carry-on and all pockets again, I explain how I only got the one ticket in Luxembourg and thought that’d be it because it did say Manchester on it.
The woman makes a few phone calls and speaks into a walkie-talkie. Crosschecks my passport and the ticket on her computer and explains me that I should’ve gone to the ticket-desk in London. They are really friendly and professional about the whole thing though. They ask me to wait a moment while some more walkie-talkie happens. After a few more minutes most passengers already have left the room and are sitting in the airport shuttle that is supposed to take them to the plane. I hesitantly ask if there is anything I can do to help. The airline guy tells me: “Well, I have to find out how you got through security, this is very serious.” Talking on the phone, apparently getting an A-OK he scrawls a seat number on my ticket stub and waves me on towards the exit.
To this day I wonder if the guy at the security check got in trouble because of me .
Hey, maybe I will tell you how I nearly forgot my cellphone in a taxi after trying to explain the driver how to get to my cousin’s place ((it was my first time ever in Manchester)) or how I got a ride on an ambulance to the emergency room later the same night.
Let me know what you think.