Day 16 of ? – Australia: So Close to Achieving Humane Air Travel

17 Mar

The main problem with modern air travel is that there are too many people alive who remember what flying used to be like and these people end up gumming up the whole system for everyone else when they invariably find themselves protesting some stupid security practice that is stupid. Because of this it’s going to be a few more decades before the people in charge will finally be able to celebrate the complete subjugation of all airline passengers – this will happen only when the old have forgotten (and the young will have never known) what things used to be like.

So on Thursday I was quite surprised when I took a domestic flight to Adelaide to visit with my all-time most botanically-named friend and I discovered that Australia seems to have rolled back (or possibly never implemented) some of the more useless post-nine-eleven performances of airport security theatre.

No Papers

Initially I thought someone messed up when I passed through the passenger screening at the Sydney domestic airport terminal when no one asked to see my ID or even my boarding card. Then when it was time to board the plane I was able to do so by simply presenting a digital copy of my boarding card. Ok, so that was cool, I thought – it’s possible to resell your ticket if you have to cancel your travel. Nice.

Not a Passanger

When I landed in Adelaide I was greeted by my friend at the gate and I was instantly confused as to how a non-passenger could have gained access to the forbidden zone. She explained that you don’t need a boarding card to get through security and literally anyone can go to the gate.

Speedy

I also found it didn’t take very long to get through security. Not having to show ID definitely sped things up, and it doesn’t appear that the additional burden of screening non-passengers slowed things down any. [Note the uselessly small sample set]

It Wasn’t all Positive

On my way home at the security check they confiscated my Finland baby-box scissors (you know the ones with the orange handle). This upset me because they were a special gift and they’d already been deemed acceptable for carry-on at the airport in Sydney on the way over.

So this is the state of modern air travel and I have to say it was encouraging to see some common sense security practices in place over here. I’m not holding my breath that my home hemisphere will implement any of these changes ever, but it was nice to be treated like a suspect for one brief instance on my Adelaide trip.

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My flight landing at the gate in Adelaide. Photo Credit FP

As I was writing this post I couldn’t help but think of the old “papers please” joke people make when poking fun at countries (USSR, Olde-timey Germany) that did not have freedom of mobility and how right now we are living in the future where progressive countries seem to be implementing (without a lot of pushback) policies (like this ID thing) that would have abhorred younger versions of their citizenry.

Borodin: I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck… maybe even a “recreational vehicle.” And drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Ramius: I suppose.
Borodin: No papers?
Ramius: No papers, state to state.
Borodin: Well then, in winter I will live in… Arizona. Actually, I think I will need two wives.
Ramius: Oh, at least.

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