I flew to Tasmania last Wednesday morning. The airport here in Brisbane is wide open: I could have carried a cup of coffee through security, the guy at the café in the waiting area told me.
Air travel hasn’t been this relaxing for me since I was a kid, traveling between cities to visit my parents several decades ago … okay, that was stressful for different reasons. But I recall how open and transparent Southern California’s Burbank airport used to be, when I walked out to the tarmac, sometimes with my mom in tow. And how my dad could meet me at my gate to pick me up.
And like airports in Australia seem to be now, three decades later, and ten years after 9/11: No one checked my id or to see if I had a boarding pass. My shoes stayed on. People gathered at the windows to wave goodbye to passengers, after they had been allowed past the security checkpoint to hang out in the waiting area with their loved ones. The only restrictions at the security checkpoint were against spray liquids (pressure? Directional?), and hot fluids — I could not have taken my cup of coffee onto the plane.
How refreshing in a post 9/11 world. I am such an American. I even hesitate to blog this — what if bad people might read it and get ideas? What if government agents might read it and think I have ideas? I don’t want to live in this self-censored fashion. Ugh.
A related aside on Internet surveillance: Maybe Virgin will read this (perhaps they have spybots tracking the Web, in a weird breach of Internet privacy? I expect that, even though I did not ever want that to be part of the social contract for living online) — I like Virgin Australia!! Their sandwich and tea is 7 bucks. The flat white and croissant at the airport cafe: $10 AUSD! The seats are roomy and nice leather… can I have a free flight now?
A few more possibly related thoughts: Why do old people talk to and trust strangers? The nice woman next to me on one of my flights told me about her daughter, her grandkids, the works. Or is that just Australian? (Possibly not: last December, some new research came out showing it’s brain-related, and here’s at least one news story, http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/12/06/166609270/why-its-easier-to-scam-the-elderly.)
What’s the population of Australia? If Australia were more densely populated, would they be more worried about airport security? Is Sydney or Melbourne that much more cosmopolitan? And will they be more snooty there, as well as more over-protective? We’ll find out when we go spend a weekend in Sydney soon…