I was not groped in Warsaw

For those who have followed my various gropings and goosings at airports, I will happily report that, at Chopin Airport at Warsaw, security was a breeze. We didn’t have to remove our shoes (but we did our watches), we had to remove laptops and liquids from our bags, as well as taking off our belts, but then we passed through a metal detector only, and I WAS NOT GOOSED—or even touched.

As far as I can see, nearly all European airports have abandoned what to me is the most noxious aspect of security besides groping: removing your shoes. In the U.S. the shoes-off thing is simple security theater: a precaution that is meant to make us think we are safe but doesn’t really do so.

And so, buttocks ungroped, I board my flight to Chicago.


  1. Alexander
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Aha, you had to remove your watch, and put it in the box. Good you got it back, it wasn’t a Cartier or something similar, I guess. I had an expensive belt I received as a gift, and when I checked by the security checks, I had to put in the box, and investigating in detail my computer bag and getting me confused, I boarded the plane sensa belt.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      you had to remove your watch, and put it in the box. Good you got it back, it wasn’t a Cartier or something similar, I guess.

      Not that Cartier or whoever matters compared to “it was a gift for me from X”, but the technique I’ve long followed has been to move everything from my hands, pockets etc (including plastic pens, hand lens, and watch, coins, wallet …) into the side pockets of my jacket, zip up the now-full pockets, and drop my entire jacket into the conveyor basket. So I can concentrate on getting my laptop, the work’s laptop and the client’s laptop out of the rucksack, along with any cameras and other stuff in there like back-up hard drives.
      I suppose it would be possible for an attentive thief to notice I’d put a £100-odd worth of watch into my coat pocket before the queue even got within sight of the conveyor belts, but they’d have to be pretty attentive.
      By the time I go though the metal detector, normally the only thing in my hands is my passport and boarding pass. And many airports require those to go through the X-ray machine too.
      I take it that “Cartier” are overpriced jewel-laden excuses for timepieces? I’ve never wasted time on looking in shops that display the brand logo.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 16, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        Among all the emails offering me Russian women and genuine viagra, I also get a lot pushing ‘Genuine copy watches’ (which is an oxymoron if I ever saw one). The ones I really prize are those headed “In these difficult times, copy watches make good sense”. Weird.

        My watch is a decades-old Casio digital, bought because it has Dual Time and was inexpensive (about $50 IIRC). I lost it once, found it six months later under the passenger seat of the car. Anyone harbouring uncharitable suspicions about how often I clean my car would be dead right.

        When I go through security I typically need two or three boxes for all the stuff in my pockets and bag…


  2. Michael Day
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I travelled from Atlanta to San Antonio, Texas last week, and at both airports I had to pass through the see-you-naked machine. I was shoeless, belt-less, and all items were removed from my pockets. I was still patted down at each airport. The TSA agent at each airport said the machine was detecting my POCKETS themselves on my shorts (I had two identical pairs of shorts, so was wearing the same type of shorts at each airport). My empty pockets were the culprit!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Are you suggestng that they might not have tested this use-case? Shocked! I’m shocked I tell you!

  3. John Stackpole
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    In the US (anyway) if you are a geezer (>=75) you can keep your shoes on.

  4. kubla
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    As BB King used to sing, “the thrill is gone.”


  5. Grania Spingies
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I’ll just leave this gruesome bit of satire here then.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Is that satire or documentary? Or crystal-ball gazing?
      Imagine the paperwork if it really happened? More people leaving the security area than entering it?? It’d delay the flight by weeks while they hunt down and destroy the terrorist. Probably have to nuke the airport from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

      • Richard
        Posted August 17, 2016 at 12:30 am | Permalink

        I was watching ‘Aliens’ on TV two nights ago (lights off – the best way to watch it) when I became aware of something scuttling across the floor in the gloom. Fortunately it was only a large spider (about two inches across), not a facehugger. Gave me a shock, though.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 19, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          I made a video “get well soon” card for my Boss when he had his (first) heart attack. It was the “chest burster” scene.

  6. James Walker
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like the title of a very disappointing Eastern European p*rn film …

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I have to say I’m glad you’re weren’t touched, even though it puts me in the sub-group “people who follow your groping experiences.” 🙂

  8. compuholio
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    The whole procedure about taking off your shoes and going through a body scanner is – as far as I can tell – unique to the U.S.

    Everywhere else you simply go through a metal detector. If it goes off you are being scanned more closely with a hand-held one. If it doesn’t you are good to go. At some places you also have your carry-on swabbed with a cloth which is then scanned for explosives.

    Unfortunately, the body scanners – which I loathe more than anything else – are back in the political discussions after the latest acts of terrorism.

    Not that any of this would help with anything. It is purely about signaling to potential voters that something is being done.

  9. Andrea Kenner
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink


  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I found your description of ‘everywhere else’ fairly accurate. I usually set off the alarm and have to dredge my pockets again for a pen or coins or keys that I missed on the first unloading session.

    Most security are human. We flew Auckland – Brisbane – Dubai – Paris, and at Brisbane (I like Brisbane airport – unpretentious and comfortable) we had to get off the plane, go through security, then get back on the exact same plane. My wife was (randomly?) pulled aside for a going-over with a sniffer/detector gadget. So then our 8-year-old wants to be done too. Agent: “No, I don’t need to check you”. 8yo: “But I want to”. So he solemnly puts a new detector strip in the holder, goes over the 8yo with it, puts the strip in the machine and it registers all clear, 8yo is happy.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      That was a reply to compuholio, of course.


    • compuholio
      Posted August 17, 2016 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Last year I have been to Brisbane as well and I can confirm that the airport staff was quite friendly and relaxed.

      Brisbane also is a beautiful city. I would move there instantly for their city beach alone. Plus, I always love the Australian attitude ever since I spent a semester studying there.

  11. Posted August 17, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    It must mean you’re moving up in the world, Jerry. 🙂 (Seriously, thank gourd for small mercies.)

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