With all of the publicity that ramped-up security has gotten in wake of the underwear bomber, I assumed that I would experience a level of security intrusiveness to which I was unaccustomed on my recent flights to and from Europe. That wasn't the case, however.
I wonder what you other globetrotters have seen in your travels, because my security experience at airports in London, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Nice did not seem, at least overtly, different than usual. Flying intra-Europe was no big deal when it came to getting through security.
That is, until I got to Munich. Credit Germanic thoroughness, I suppose, with the pretty invasive measures I experienced there. No, they do not fool around. You've not seen security, at least in Europe, unless you've seen Germany. It was a distinct difference, and due, as I understand it, to the higher pay grade and better training. Airport security people in Germany are law enforcement professionals. This is not your father's TSA.
How is it different? you ask. From the very slow lines to the heavy magnetic wanding to the invasive touching (by same-gender personnel, I might add), the thoroughness was a cut above.
Moreover, all suitcases — all! — were opened, and truly inspected. Oh yes, the big push on security is a reality in Germany. My takeaway is that you had better allow extra time for the longer lines. When they say show up an hour before boarding time, they mean it.
And it's not only in Germany. When I flew back home to Chicago I had to go through customs. Customs this time around was not the same deal. Yes, it was short and sweet, but it was intense like I have never before experienced intensity. Intense in the staccato, very serious questioning; intense in the searching, very direct eyeballing by the agent. "Where do you live?" was a question that demanded no hesitation. Reaction time was being tested. They were looking not just for the correct data, but the correct delivery. I felt like I was on stage and this was my screen test. I've never encountered that before on re-entering the U.S. I wasn't sure they wanted me back.
But on another level I was glad to see them on their toes. In retrospect, once I had made it through it all, I felt more secure —
— although in the back of my mind I had to wonder what would have happened had I missed my cue or botched my line reading.
What about you? Have you felt on the spot in your travels through airport security, here or overseas, since things have tightened up?
Road Warrior • Miami • www.us.amadeus.com