October 24, 2006

Polish Security

We were too late to get on the U3A trip to Poland so Nina and I decided to book our own short break to Krakow. Now I have written in the past about my paranoia over obscure portents and signs, so you can appreciate my feelings when arriving at Gatwick to find that the Polish airline we were travelling on was called “Central Wings”. My concern was that I firmly believe that there should be one wing on either side of the aircraft. How could anyone think that it could fly with central wings? I was very relieved to see that the ‘plane actually was configured conventionally and this immediately made me wary as to the honesty of the Poles. How could they use such a lie to describe an airline? Perhaps it is because of their complex language. Compared to English, they have a dearth of vowels and an unbelievable excess of consonants, particularly “Ws”, “Xs”, "Cs" and “Zs”, which they appear to spread liberally in every other word. Listening to spoken Polish is like listening to a tape of the Gettysburg Address being played backwards!

As is common with many airlines at the moment, no food is served on the flight but sandwiches are available to purchase as are tea, coffee and a selection of other beverages. The only problem is that for about 150 passengers, there were only some two or three dozen sandwiches/rolls! I think the cabin crew made them themselves and did not have sufficient time between arriving from Krakow and take off for the return trip. So with one trolley starting at the back of the aircraft and the other from the front, those of us in the middle of the cabin were doomed to starve on the journey.

After a great time in Krakow we thought that we would pre-empt the return flight and take some provisions with us, so after breakfast we secreted about ourselves several pieces of fruit which would sustain us as far as Gatwick where we knew we could get a decent cup of coffee.

We had been warned that security at Krakow airport was particularly stringent and that there were two separate inspections of hand luggage and personal possessions. Now, I wear a safari jacket when travelling as it has several pockets, all within easy reach, but it appears to worry security staff who to feel that it can be a receptacle for myriad explosive devices. On this occasion the first security team asked me to take the jacket off and to place it with my camera and watch in the plastic basket to be transported through the X-ray scanner. I then proceeded through the metal detector which, of course, bleeped – indicating that it did not like me. I was then instructed to remove my shoes and belt. Now clutching my trousers to maintain what little dignity was left to me I tried the metal detector again. Why should it change its mind? It still didn’t like me. Having now been patted down and glared at by three dour security men, they threw my possessions at me whilst muttering unintelligible Polish epithets. I replaced my shoes, belt and jacket and proceed to the departure lounge. Our fellow passengers expressed their condolences at the way I have been treated, but I laugh heartily whilst triumphantly declaring – “Ah, but I fooled them – they didn’t find my banana”!

In the departure lounge we encountered the second team, and on returning from the Gents, they put me through the scanning routine again! Still, I had them fooled though – I had eaten the banana!!!!!

Posted by jeff at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)