Wednesday, November 17, 2010

escape from berlin?!

what an interesting experience - to put it mildly - i had at tegel airport. for the first time in all my travels near and far, i was pulled out of line at security and taken to a customs office to have my carry on bag inspected (actually, it was my computer). it wasn't a big deal in retrospect - but in real time following the customs agent out of the gate and back to his office was way out of my typical airport comfort zone!

to put it in context, i had gone to the airport with a bunch of my colleagues (we were all on the same flight back to jfk). we checked in, cleared customs, and were on the same security check line together. i cleared the scan (and body pat down) without incident. but as i waited for my bag to come off the conveyor belt, the inspector called over an agent, pointed to me, had a quick chat in german, and off i went with him (i did get to put my shoes and belt back on).

he didn't speak english (or opted not to) but was pleasant enough as we walk back thru the customs area i had just cleared, through the gate, and into the terminal to another customs office. they had me open up my computer and pull out my adapters and other electrical cords. these were all dusted, put on a card, and that card was fed into a scanner which proceeded to test for what i suspect was gun powder residue!

after 30 seconds the machine gave a negative reading - phew! i was "cleared" - and after i packed up my stuff, the original agent accompanied me back to the security check. he took me to the front of the line, but i still had to have my bag passed through the machine again, and i too was patted down a second time when i went through the metal detector. the entire episode lasted, at most, 10-15 minutes.

when i got home, in what may be totally unrelated, my checked bag had been opened and examined! this i became aware of when i found the customs paperwork (bi-lingual) in the bag that explained it had been check - and cleared - and this was my official receipt, if you will. an interesting bit of reading on the tail end of the gunpowder test!

but none of it took away from the great time i had in berlin :D


TeeJay said...

Fun stuff, huh Frank? ;) It's great to have you back in the Gotham area, and I honestly hope to see you soon (maybe on Nov 28th? Hope so!).

Good luck at JFK!

Richard Suter Photography said...

I travel about 6 times a month and have not had to report to a customs agent...yet. Hopefully I won't have to! Glad berlin was awesome! I'd love to go there sometime!