It’s never a good thing when you show up for your flight and the police have roped off your airline’s registration counter. But that happened to me last Monday.
My wife and I arrived at the airport Monday afternoon, several hours before our flight to Frankfurt was scheduled to depart. The three helpful men in front of the terminal door wearing green fatigues and sidearms suggested we try another entrance to the North Terminal … and by “suggested” I mean politely ordered. We entered through another door to find an entire section of the registration desk closed off, complete with little barricades and blinking blue lights on the airport policeman’s imitation Segway.
My wife turned to me, the experienced business traveler, for my opinion on the situation. I don’t think she expected me to say “I have never seen that before.” The Atlanta airport cops typically don’t wear green fatigues and being ordered away from a police perimeter isn’t part of my everyday travel experience.
We waited curbside while the police did their work, which looked a lot like a bomb scare based on the distance they were establishing between us and the airline counter. After a confusing fifteen minutes, the perimeter was removed and we checked in for our flight in a very normal fashion.
So, what was the big deal? Vibrating luggage.
Have you ever seen the movie “Fight Club”? It’s the heartwarming tale of a man who unwittingly starts a terrorist organization under the guise of a local soap company. Early in the film, the protagonist’s luggage is confiscated by airport security because it may contain a bomb (this is long before the soap company gets setup, so it’s not actually bomb … trust me, this isn’t a big spoiler). The luggage is suspected due to vibrations typically caused by an electric razor (or a “personal device of an erotic nature” that also runs on batteries).
Yes, that actually happened to some poor guy on our flight … not the discovery of a “personal device”, the bomb scare due to an electric razor.
My wife and I overheard portions of the story while waiting a the gate. A large portion of Atlanta’s North Terminal was closed due to an inopportune flip of the “on” switch. As funny as this sounds, it resulted some very tense moments in the terminal and some damage to his luggage (they cut the bag open since the police don’t open bags very politely during a bomb search).
This is not a great way to start your international journey. Be careful what you pack and always be prepared for the unusual, even when it involves personal grooming. The airline may not pay for luggage cut open by the local police, you may end up on the news and your travel companions may give you crap about closing an international airport because you don’t use disposable razors.