Hi All- Sorry for the delayed posting, we’ve been off the radar for the last few days and this is the first time I’ve had access to the internet. I’m expecting it to be more consistent as we get farther into our trip, so don’t despair!
We got off to a bit of a rough start thanks to our choice in airlines. As I’ve blogged about many times, we are loyal Cebu Pacific fans. Sadly, the length of this journey required that we take Philippine Airlines, my least favorite of the 3 Philippines carriers. Upon arriving 2 hours prior to our flight, we were forced to stand in line after endless line. Let me see if I can remember the order:
1. Initial Item Screening to get into the airport
2. Bag Check-in
4. Carry-on Screening/Security Check (Complete with intrusive rub down)
5. Gate Screening
6. Shoe Screening (by hand, no less)
As you can see, that’s quite a few lines to stand in. That in itself would have been annoying, but it’s compounded by certain cultural factors that make it nearly unbearable. Some of the highlights include:
• Waiting an hour to check in when only 6 parties were ahead of us in line
• Getting to customs and trying to fill out a departure card, only to find out that the cards were way back where we came from at some obscure information desk (very logical, don’t you think?)
• Going through the gate screening and having a lovely gentleman hold up every item in our bag for confirmation (“Keys, mam? Us: Duh, what do they look like.” I swear, I thought Nick was going to blow a fuse at this point)
Lest I give you the impression that they’re actually security-conscious, let me share this amusing story:
We are waiting for our flight to be called when we notice that there is an unattended bag sitting in the next row of chairs over. After all the security training we went through, we’ve been conditioned to be hyper-attentive to stuff like that. We immediately asked everyone around us if it was there bag. I grabbed our hand-carries and quickly evacuated the area while Nick ran to security to notify them.
I should preface this by saying that the Embassy had just released a warning that morning for Manila because there had been a credible threat, so we were on high alert as it was. When Nick finally found a security guard and let them know that there was an unattended bag, the guard’s reply was: “We must wait 20 minutes and see if someone comes back to claim it.” What the f*#@!? Yeah, let’s give it 20 minutes and see if it’s going to blow up before we check it out. God forbid we anger someone who was stupid enough to leave their bag unattended. Can you even imagine how fast that bag would have been dealt with at LAX? So we did the only thing we could do, we removed ourselves from the situation.
Later, when we were going through the gate security, that same security guard came over and scolded the bag’s owner in front of us saying, “Mam, you must not leave your bag unattended. These people were very concerned.” Yes, that’s correct, he did not say anything about it being a security concern or that he (and his staff) were worried about the chance of it being a possible bomb. It’s times like these I’m reminded that we live in a third world country….