We hit the skies on Monday to head back to France. We flew out of Greensboro this time and expected the security process to go smoothly. After all, it’s a tiny airport and we typically make it through the security checks there in five minutes. Well, let’s just say this time we learned a few very valuable travel lessons.
Let me start by saying that I like to play it safe. I prefer to be early rather than to cut it close. My husband, on the other hand, much prefers the thrill of arriving at the last minute and being the last person to board the flight. We tend to compromise about what time we should arrive at the airport, going a tad later than I’d like, but a tad earlier than he’d prefer.
Well, let’s just say that this time we cut it a little too close. After taking our time saying our goodbyes in front of the security lane, we hopped in line with absolutely no one in front of us.
This should be a breeze, I thought to myself.
Boy, was I wrong….
I was still blotting away my goodbye tears when the security officer told us that all food items needed to be taken out of our carry-ons.
That’s when I started to panic. What was that? Food needs to come out?
Now, naturally I had grouped all of the food we intended on eating during our flights into two bags. What I hadn’t done, however, was group together the other food stuffs that had made their way into our carry-ons as we struggled to keep our checked bags under weight.
Among the food items that were stuffed at random in our overflowing and overweight carry-ons were a 2lb bag of chocolate chips, a 2lb bag of pecans, various seasonings, two full boxes of Lara Bars, randomly dispersed mini Lara Bars, and a few other things. Our two roll on carry-ons were bulging at the seams. Digging out every random edible was going to take at least twenty minutes, meanwhile our flight was set to board in about 10 minutes.
When did they make that a rule? I asked the security officer, trying to figure out how I’d missed out on this new FFA security regulation.
It’s not a rule, I was told. Just a recommendation.
So, given that answer, I did what anyone would’ve done: I handed over the neatly organized bags of food that we planned on eating in the plane and decided not to bother with all of the other random food items stuffed in my other carry-ons.
Well, let’s just say recommendation my butt.
If it were only a recommendation, then we wouldn’t have spent the next 30 minutes having every. single. carry-on sent for additional screening, being swabbed, being re-scanned, being re-swabbed, and being sent to another machine for re-screening.
I watched, in dismay, as the hand on my watch passed the announced boarding time.
I broke into a sweat as they called our names over the intercom, not once but three times.
I sent Antoine and the kids running through the concourse to beg the gate agents to hold our flight, while I stayed and silently (and irrationally) cursed the security process.
I threw my pride out the window and pleaded, in vain, with the straight-faced security officers.
I have 20 hours of travel ahead with two kids! Please don’t make us miss this flight over a couple of boxes of Lara Bars!
But they just kept on scanning…
time and time again.
Just when I was ready to plop down on the floor and cry, they handed me the last of our bags and gave me the thumbs up. I took off running – well, attempting to run – to our gate while simultaneously man-handling 5 overflowing, half-way closed carry-ons.
By some small miracle, Antoine had convinced the gate agents to hold the flight for us. Sweaty, irritated, and still in disbelief at the ridiculousness of the situation, we boarded the plane for immediate take-off.
And so, ladies and gentleman, began our 20+ transatlantic travel day…
Needless to say, that whole experience will definitely go down in the books as one of my worst travel experiences to date. I am happy to report, however, that after our hideously complicated security experience in Greensboro, the rest of the trip went pretty smoothly.
As a matter of fact, the kids apparently found the whole sprinting through the airport and almost missing our flight thing amusing!
Oh to be a child again…
No sooner were we seated was Aston begging for some of the homemade chocolate chip cookies my sister-in-law had so sweetly baked for us to take on the plane.
And though I usually do my best to avoid sugar and all that jazz, I wiped the sweat from my forehead, took a deep breath, and stuffed my face with one of those soft, chocolatey treats right along side the rest of my family.
And Mon Dieu, were they delicious!
We rationed the cookies throughout the day, using them not only as a much needed pick-me-up after our crazy security fiasco, but then again on the last leg of our trip as a reward for the kids for having been so good on the first two flights.
So this is where I publicly thank my sister-in-law: Tracy, your cookies were a God-send!
As for the rest of you, I shared this anecdote with you not for the sole purpose of making you crave homemade chocolate chip cookies, but rather in hopes that you’ll learn something from our latest travel experience.
In short, here’s what you need to remember:
PS – Speaking of travel tips, check out The ULTIMATE Survival Guide: Flying with Babies and Young Children!
What was your worst travel experience to date?
Let me know in the comments below!