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Long hours

I'm so glad I'm not flying today, or even this week. Now, when worry over airline safety is at a high, is probably one of the safest times to fly - but it's also one of the more frustrating, today especially. So many flights have been cancelled - there will be days worth of rescheduling backlog. No liquids will be allowed in carryon, except for prescription medicines, so there'll be more thirsty people than usual. No toothpaste is allowed for the same reason, so hope many bring mints at least.

Worst of all for the sake of the long hours of flying, no carryon luggage means no books, no game boys, no laptops, no knitting, no magazines, no notebooks. It means spending the long hours of a long-haul flight being bored, and being on a plane full of other equally bored people, adults and children alike. In-flight entertainment systems usually take a few hours to start up at the beginning of a flight. A flight full of bored, fidgety people. At least there's one form of entertainment this will encourage, although just how successfully entertaining it is depends on luck of seating: conversation.

I realize that boredom seems a small price to pay for security, and a small factor indeed in the face of today's rescheduling, cancellation, and 2000 persons of customs backlog at Stansted. But next week and the week after, when I will be travelling, boredom is likely to be a greater risk than all the other mess which today's headlines unfold.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2006 03:47 pm (UTC)
I find it hard to understand how a book can pose a threat. Perhaps the rules were constructed by non-readers?

It's still looking quite chaotic over here - only one airline has anything flying into Heathrow, because there's no room to store the planes! It should ease up a bit by next week, though. Unless, God forfend, something big does happen.
Aug. 10th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC)
Thick books can be used to hide liquids inside? Magazines may come with perfume samples? Since wallets and pocket-sized objects are still allowed, I can envision a whole new exciting publishing niche in pocket-sized books. Yes I know, that's what paperbacks are meant to be - but most paperbacks are bigger than most pockets these days.

I suspect the UK will be dealing with at least a few days of travel insanity, just dealing with the aftermath of today - let alone if flights continue to be cancelled for more days.
Aug. 10th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
I've not seen any info yet re: no carryon stuff. Where'd you find out this info?

Interesting that they are reckon the explosives were liquid-based... were it not for the fact that you wouldn't be able to read it on the plane even if you could get hold of a copy, I'd recommend a book called "A big boy did iut and ran away"...
Aug. 10th, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC)
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
I immediately thought of that Christopher Brookmyre when I heard the news too, especially that they were making people taste liquids. Possibly not the best book to read on a plane anyway, but otherwise second the recommendation.
Aug. 11th, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC)
I'll look it up... when I'm not travelling.
Aug. 10th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
If these strictures are still in effect in December, I hope they don't cross me over bringing my laptop on board with me carrying it in my arms if I have to, because it's something I refuse to check in the hold. Laptops are fragile; rough handling can cause irreparable damage.
Aug. 10th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)
I doubt they'll still be in effect then - or if they are, it'll be from different causes. The changes are only meant to be short-term. (Last sentence of article.) If today you insisted on it, however, you wouldn't get on the flight.

So true about laptops. Their fragility is part of what makes them so compact and portable - which is ironic, given how much sturdier and more resilient their non-travelling desktop counterparts are.
Aug. 10th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
I'm travelling in less than two weeks, and was planning on taking my laptop.. I'm not putting it in the hold, though.
Aug. 11th, 2006 09:15 am (UTC)
I don't know many laptop owners who would be willing to do that! I foresee people demanding that airlines pay the damage costs incurred to their laptops when they're forced to check them. Not all will break, I'm sure, but I'm also sure there will in fact be a lot of damaged computers as a result. At least every other time I travel, something of a non-mechanical nature in my checked luggage suffers some kind of severe bumping-up, or breakage, no matter how much care I think I've put into the packing process.
Aug. 11th, 2006 12:17 am (UTC)
I'm gonna agree with that one. It's bad enough to have to spend an entire flight without access to lotion and water, but there's no way I would entrust my laptop to the people I see throwing luggage around on the tarmacs.
Aug. 11th, 2006 09:16 am (UTC)
And the book thing. Is that for real - items on the list only, and since books aren't there, people can't have them? It's enough to inspire tears.
Aug. 11th, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)
A first-hand experience of no books allowed. - albeit from someone who didn't even make it as far as flying, just checked in for his flight, which was then cancelled, had to reclaim his bag, and make his way back to Ireland by boat instead.

It's only outbound flights from the UK being affected by the no carryon luggage policy currently, and I doubt it'll last very long, not to this extreme. But we'll see.
Aug. 10th, 2006 03:59 pm (UTC)
I think the ban on books is so they can force everyone to watch the in-flight entertainment which will be replaced by an eight hour infomercial explaining why Big Brother John Reid needs even more powers to foil even more plots.
Aug. 10th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)
I would imagine that if this becomes a long term thing, instead of just during a terror alert phase, airlines are going to start to sell the kind of things packed in peoples luggage, particullary a few bestsellers and packs of cheep toys for kids. The airline selling them mid flight would get around the security risks of people bringing it onboard themselves and I can't see the airlines passing up a chance to make a bit more money. With a limit on how much baby milk can be taken onto the flight I would imagine they will be selling overpriced formula milk and pre-sterilised bottles. If they just start selling packs of things to amuse kids during the flight I think that would make the flights more bearable, I think it will be a nightmare sharing a flight with rather bored children and toddlers.

I thought the news said that prescription medicine was only allowed as pills. I must have misheard or got muddled with non-prescription medicine as there are obviously some liquid medicines that some passengers would not be able to pass a long flight without.
Aug. 10th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
Insulin is definitely okay to bring on board, with prescription, of course.

"Prescription medicines and medical items sufficient and essential for the flight (eg, diabetic kit), except in liquid form unless verified as authentic" - I have no idea how they'd verify the medicines as authentic. It sounds like a discouragement, but not an out-and-out denial of necessary meds.

As for books for sale on airplanes - talk about a captive and competitive market! And imagine the spin-off airplane book clubs! (They'll seat you with other loyal same-brand airline readers so you can discuss this month's books.) Plus they'd have real incentive to sell books on the shorter side - the cost of being a fast reader would be needing to buy more than one book over the course of a flight.
Aug. 10th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
I wish they would sell children's amusement of some sort on planes, other than the standard in-flight duty free shite that no one who's ever actually played with a child would think suffices. I honestly can't believe how many parents seem to feel their toddlers will "sleep through" a 7 hour flight, and don't bother to pack anything to amuse them. Kids never sleep through flights. Ever. And the one that'll watch an inflight movie all the way through is pretty rare too.

(Of course, I wish they sold paperbacks in flight too, because I routinely fail to bring a long enough book. *sigh*)
Aug. 10th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
mmmm... bound to be mass market fodder though if they did. Dan Brown? Again? Do I have to?
Aug. 11th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
Dan Brown vs. 8 hours of complete boredom. Under the circumstances, I'd reread, sad to say. I just hope it doesn't come to that.
Aug. 11th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
I'm a terrible cynic: I have to admit that I've wondered whether airlines would lobby to make these changes permanent precisely so they can sell things to passengers at marked-up prices during the flight.
Aug. 10th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
At least there's one form of entertainment this will encourage, although just how successfully entertaining it is depends on luck of seating: conversation.

Oh, God, there's nothing I hate more than people talking to me on airplanes! The only exception is when I'm going to the AAR, where I can have a reasonable expectation of sitting next to someone intelligent and interesting. I've created an entire gruff persona just for airplanes. On airplanes I am a person who has NOTHING NOTHING to do with the study of religion or the study of anything really. Because for the entire non-AAR population of the world, "I study religion" seems to be synonymous with "I give a shit about your entire stupid life history and your spiritual struggles and how your parents raised you and why you're not that any more" and ARGH FUCK. I'd rather watch the inflight movie. Even if it is King Kong.
Aug. 11th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC)
I wish you many happy window seats.
Aug. 10th, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. It looks like I'll be traveling with the carryons lockdown in place, too. No books will make it very very very boring, and I'm worried about my laptop, too.
Aug. 11th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
Poor you! You're flying on exactly the wrong flight this week - I hope restrictions at least ease as far as books by Saturday or whenever it is you're flying.
Aug. 10th, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC)
I don't think these requirements can stand for long. That is also an expression of hope, as Spouse and I are flying from Boston to Seattle at the end of August, with kids in tow!
Aug. 11th, 2006 03:25 pm (UTC)
Happily, flights within the US haven't been that restricted. You may go thirsty and be deprived of chapstick, but you books and electronics are even now still usable on internal US flights. Hurray!
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:16 pm (UTC)
Well we are flying to Boston in September, and I hope that we're allowed some toys or something on or Josie will drive me bonkers. We'll just have to wait and see I suppose.
Aug. 11th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
My flying experience as of yesterday
I flew from JFK to Manchester on BA last night. BA was the only airline that did not allow carry on luggage, all other airlines (in that terminal anyway, which included other international carriers such as United, USAirways and Iberia) only made you remove liquids. We were given plastic bags to put passports, wallets and keys in. I did get to keep a pen as well, for filling in the landing card, and I stashed a bit of paper in my wallet so I could write if I needed to. As I was checking in a staff member told the ticket agents that books and dried fruit would be permitted on board.

When I got through security, I bought a book and a New Yorker at a bookstand. As I was paying for them, another BA staffer told the cashiers (who were already reluctant to sell me the items) that now books and magazines would not be allowed on board *groan*. I figured I could at least read the magazine in the lounge and try to check the book as needed. I enquired about this at the gate, and they said to hang on to it until they had further information. When I handed them my boarding pass and passport, the agent said nothing about my reading material. We were searched again after walking onto the jetway, with the patdown and examination of the contents of everyone's plastic bags. A few people had large ziploc bags full of stuff, including fruit and books. The flight attendents did their best to hand out all newspapers and magazines left on board to interested passengers, and I passed on my New Yorker so at least 2 other people got to read it (I got a Guardian which I shared with my seat mate).

The inflight entertainment started within 20-30 minutes of take off, I can't say I've ever had to wait more than half an hour for it to start on any airline that offers it, unless they were having technical problems with the dvd system.

Anyway, it didn't end up being a huge deal in the end, though I would have obviously liked to have kept my mobile and iPod, though neither appear to be damaged. I will say this, the lack of hand luggage meant we were off the plane in no time this morning. And I'd rather be inconvenienced than dead. My advice would be to call the airline you are scheduled to fly with and check their baggage policy 24 hours before you leave.
Aug. 14th, 2006 05:08 am (UTC)
Re: My flying experience as of yesterday
Thank you for the details of your flight - I appreciate them, especially given how curious I am about how the changes are affecting air travel and personal anecdotes out of it, in no small part since I too will be travelling in the near future.

Inflight entertainment usually starts within 30-60 minutes, but there's usually just public service tapes on for the first hour or so on most flights I've been on lately, rather than movies or any choice of content. It's something at least.

I'm glad to know you were permitted a pen on board. I've been having worried thoughts about customs queues exacerbated by a complete lack of pens on board - and thus no one filling out their forms in advance.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )