Yet another airline passenger’s tale

Orly Mercado

Posted on August 14, 2006

She looked like she was only in her mid-thirties. She was stern and knew what she was looking for. As I struggled to unload my heavy luggage, the handle broke. She motioned me to the counter. “Open it up,” she said. I did.

“You have alcohol,” it did not sound like a question. She was a customs inspector in the Male’ airport. Maldives does not allow visitors to bring in alcoholic beverages although resorts for foreigners serve liquor.

“Sake,” she said. She knew it just by the way it was wrapped. “All these will be confiscated; you may collect them when you leave,” she added.

I was about to explain that I was not a tourist. I had a job as a consultant and six weeks is too long for me to be dry. The other bottles could pass for mouthwash, but that was a no brainer for an excuse, I muttered to myself.

There was no use even attempting to test my skills in effective oral communication, by arguing that the bottle of red wine among the four was medicinal. She obviously would not be moved by my reciting the benefits of wine (now they say even white wine) to the cardio vascular system. I meekly accepted my fate.

On the way out my disappointment was assuaged, simply by thinking of airline passengers in Great Britain and the US. The TV images of them carrying clear plastic bags of the barest essentials was somehow comforting. Say goodbye to handcarried contact lens fluids, or moisturizers that can easily provided by the airlines.

After September 11, nothing beats traveling without any hand carried luggage. A book, with your boarding pass as bookmark is so convenient. My only problem is the laptop computer that we have begun to view as a necessity. Check it in, and pray it is given the respect it deserves. As for the wine, I can almost feel my liver celebrating.

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