Turbulence Can Be Fun (Scotland Trip #2)

Posted by Jason McIntire | Aug 14, 2016

Yes, I am that blogger. You know the one. He starts a series, promises the next installment "next week," then lets the subject sit untouched for two months. On the time-honored theory that late is better than never, here's the long-delayed Scotland Trip Part 2.

Our recent trip to Scotland involved my first flight (unless you count the one on a sled that ended up in a fence, which probably wasn't under FAA jurisdiction). You only have that first experience once, so I thought I'd record some impressions and takeaways for posterity.

Like it or not, airport security is part of life

Before you ever see the inside of a commercial aircraft, you have to go through security - the fabled inconvenience of which has long helped deter me from flying. In some ways (and at some airports) it was as bad as I expected, but overall I found the experience quite manageable.

An Aer Lingus A330 like the one we rode to Scotland. Shout-out to that airline, by the way - fine organization with great service and reasonable ticket prices.

Some airport security people are very classy, behaving like waitstaff at a restaurant even as they're confiscating your shoes and frisking you. Others act more like the guards at a prison. (Guess who that makes us?) Either way, don't take it personally. These people have a job to do, and you will survive. I'll repeat the basics in case you've never done the dance:

  • If they're using a body scanner, you will need to take everything out of your pockets. That includes your wallet, your hanky, your McDonalds receipt from lunch, and probably the lint and pocket dust if you can get it. All this stuff will need to go through the x-ray, so you'll have to stash it in the bins.
  • Before we go further with that, let me remind you that "bin" has an entirely different meaning in the UK. I asked a security officer there which things I should put "in the bins," and she proceeded to list prohibited items that should be thrown in what you and I would call the "trash."
  • If they're not using a body scanner, you will still need to remove anything from yourself that contains any metal - with the exception of regular-sized jewelry (usually). This will include your phone, belt (if you made the mistake of wearing one), and watch.
  • Things do get stolen in security lines, so use the buddy system if you have a traveling companion: One person puts stuff up on the conveyor and pushes it in while the other one goes on through the scanner. Then, when the last item is safely inside the x-ray, the first person watches over the stuff as it comes out while the second person gets scanned. That way none of your possessions - which will include wallets, passports, and anything else not classified as clothing - will spend even a moment out of your sight and accessible to others.
  • Lots of people will tell you to wear slip-on shoes so they'll be quick and easy to remove for security. This caused me to don Crocs for most of the trip - and while Crocs are super-comfortable for snoozing on the plane, they weren't really built for hustling through airports the size of small cities. (I heard later about a friend who had one of his literally eaten by an escalator.) By the return trip I'd decided to keep my running shoes on, and I found that to be no problem. It takes me about 15 seconds to unlace them, which I can do before reaching the actual line. Once through, there's always an area where you can sit down to relace your shoes, check that you still have the major components of your life, and generally recover from the minor ordeal that is airport security.

Relax and enjoy the turbulence

Having never flown before this trip, I wasn't sure what to expect. Car sickness, only more so? A nauseating roller-coaster all the way to Europe - and back? I decided ahead of time to intentionally relax and trust the Lord, which is the approach I'd recommend to other first-time flyers as well (and to everybody else, come to think of it). Don't psych yourself out. On ascent you're in a super-tall glass elevator; once cruising, it's basically a bus with wings. Banking and dips did bother me at first, but I was over that by about the third leg of the trip. And on the transatlantic flight especially, I really did come to kind of enjoy turbulence. Crazy, I know, but it breaks up the otherwise-smooth monotony.

There's a life lesson here, one that I applied to the rest of the trip whenever little things started to go wrong. Most annoyance and frustration doesn't result from circumstances directly; it results from our attitude starting out. If you approach a new situation with a mindset of "this had better go just right or I'll be miserable," your prediction will likely come true. But if you decide to trust God, relax in his hands, and enjoy the ride as much as possible, you may find yourself hard-pressed to feel miserable no matter how many little things go wrong.

To avoid being "that blogger" again, I'm not going to promise you a Part 3 on any definite date. However, if the Lord wills and I live, I foresee wrapping up this series with one more post sometime in the not-too distant future!

Comments (1)

  1. Allison Tebo:
    Feb 16, 2017 at 10:11 PM

    This post had me laughing out loud!

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