Saturday, March 24, 2007

California Visit Part II

My week in California was very enjoyable - I could at long last put faces to people that I've only ever spoken to over the telephone.

Work aside, I experienced Sushi for the first time, and was surrounded by great scenery including lakes and redwood trees.

My trip home took a turn for the worse however....

Arriving at San Francisco airport there were signs showing that the terminal was in a heightened state of alert called "Amber". This meant that extra security checks were in place so check-in would take a little longer. I was early at the airport so this should be okay, right?


I was deemed suspicious because I was a UK citizen travelling to Australia from the US. My boarding card was marked with yellow highlighter pen and I was told to check-in at a different location. I had to remove my belt, shoes, wallet and discuss with security exactly what was in my case - even having to prove that my laptop and iPod worked.

I was then told to stand in a glass box and to stand still until a red light changed to green.

An automated voice told me it was "preparing gas jets" as I stood there confused. Several "gas jets" later and the red light was still red, not even a hint of green. My own state of alert raised to amber when I spotted other check-in travellers staring goggle-eyed at my glass box and four other security guards were making their way towards me.

The door was opened by a guard and when I politely said that the light hadn't yet turned to green I was instructed to move out quickly. I turned to look at the display monitor at the front of the glass box, and was stunned to see in big, bold, red, flashing letters the words:


"Is that me?" I asked as I pointed towards the display. Well, apparently it was and I was quickly whisked off for an interview. My own state of alert shot up to red at this time and I was shaking like a leaf.

15 minutes and one 'intimate' search later I was given the all-clear and was told to collect my stuff. When I asked how often 'false-positives' occur with the analysis I was told never. That didn't help reassure me though and I walked in a daze for the next half an hour.

Several large beers later I boarded the plane but couldn't help feeling uncomfortable as other passengers were looking at me with obvious suspicion.

I'm glad to be home !

4 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. Now that's funny! You do realise that you'll be on some kind of blacklist now and you'll get stopped for 'intimate' searches the second you show your passport anywhere...

  2. Byron must have been really scary, glad the eagle has landed!!! (must be the dragon on your behind that has radioactive properties!!!) Glad you are home safe and sound in to the bosom of your eagerly awaiting wife. xxx

  3. It was either your smelly feet or someone had told them about your dragon and they thought it might be a Triad symbol.

  4. We had heard that Sushi can affect the digestive system in different ways, but we never thought it could have such explosive effects!!Glad you arrived home to Gina +the kids safely in the end, Fiona+Martin