Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peruvian Aviation Authorities Even Stupider than American Ones

Update: If the comment from my friend Al, below, is true, which I don't doubt since he's a reliable source, I owe the Peruvian aviation authorities an apology.  

Let's face it, the wannabe terrorists who've had the most impact on frequent flyers are the schmuck who tried to explode his shoe and the nincompoops who tried to smuggle explosive liquids onto a plane. So now, while guns and all sorts of dangerous items can slip through the cracks of airport "security," regular folks like you and me have to take our shoes off (like we can't have explosives hidden in our underwear?) and pay exorbitant prices for water after we've made it though security and proven that we didn't have any of that dangerous H2O on our person or in our carry-on luggage.

When I made my connection from Lima to Cusco I thought the Peruvian authorities were more level-headed. After I had cleared immigration I had to go through security again for my domestic flight. I had a bottle of water in my carry-on, and nobody made any attempt to confiscate it, and there were no signs announcing that one couldn't bring water through security. I thought to myself, at least the Peruvians aren't afraid of water.

Then, 8 days later, when I checked in for my Lima to New York flight everything was different. There were collection bins before security to discard water bottles in. Fine, just like the U.S.A. So I bought a couple of bottles of water after security for the flight. But as I was about to board the plane, airport security personnel were checking everybody's carry-on bags. They found my bottles of water. "You can't take these on the plane," they said. "But I bought them after security," I said. "I threw out my other water before I went through security."

"Sorry," they said, "no liquids allowed."

"That's ridiculous," I said. "If that's the case they shouldn't be selling them, or at least there should have been signs somewhere." But I didn't want to hold up the other passengers, so I gave up my water and boarded the flight. Next time I'll know enough to transfer a half liter of water to six 3-oz. plastic bottles and put them in a 1-qt. ziploc baggie, thereby rendering my water harmless.

So it looks like the Peruvian authorities don't give a shit if you plan to bomb a domestic flight with a bottle of water, just one that's leaving the country.

As I told the flight attendant when I asked her for a glass of water so I could down some downers for the overnight flight, "There are bigger things to worry about than bottles of water."


Anonymous Al said...

The no liquids rule is a U.S.-imposed one. I had pretty much the same experience flying out of Seoul to JFK last summer, after having flown in from Beijing a couple of days earlier with a bottle of water. I had purchased the water from a stand practically right in front of the gate (inside security) and complained until they sent down a supervisor who patiently explained the policy to me. And when I still didn't believe him he showed me the notice they had from the FAA (which I don't think I was supposed to see), that indeed made no allowance even for sealed water purchased inside the security area.

7:23 PM  

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