Nov 18, 2006

Gooey stuff

This Opus cartoon illustrates pretty closely what happened to me last time when I flew out of Beijing airport recently. The only thing different was that we dialogued in Chinese instead of English, but everything else was spot on. Regardless where in the world you are, if you're on a flight destined for or connecting in America, personal gooey stuff will be confiscated.

For me, having a bottle of alcohol hand gel soap on airplane trips is essential. I would bet that most people on airplanes are not washing their hands thoroughly after they pinch a loaf in that tiny bathroom. The water coming out of the sink there is just a trickle, and it's just plain hard to move around in there. It was very disconcerting to not have the ability to sterlize my hands after touching the filthy bathroom door handle. Maybe in the future I can bring some latex gloves.

Regarding my hand gel, there was no way I'm going to just toss that in the trash. That stuff cost me about 12 yuan per bottle at Watson's, and not only that, there's just the principle of it. Fortunately, it was convenient enough to exit both the passport control area and the security screening area and Beijing airport, return to the United check-in counter, cut in front of whomever was waiting, and demand that the airline put my contraband gel into my checked luggage. Since said luggage had already been whisked away, the man at the counter was nice enough to pack my tiny bottle of hand gel into a one cubic foot-sized cardboard box, wrap it around and around with about ten yards of packing tape, and check it in for me. Normally they would have charged me 10 yuan or something for the extra box, but in this case they took pity on me and didn't ask for anything.

So keep in mind, even though you may be flying from a country where they still have normal airline screening regulations, as we did in the US prior to 2001, you will be subjected to the new, Gestapo-esque TSA measures if your destination is America. Pack accordingly.

Note: Can anyone let me know if "鼻痔霜" is the right way for me to translate "nasal hemorrhoid creme"? This will make for good joke material in the future with my local friends. Thanks.