Flying back to England

It had been some four years since I had last visited England. Given how little time off Americans get, visiting my family means not actually having a proper vacation that year, so I don’t get to go back as often as everyone would like. This time the visit was for a particular event: my brother Edward was getting married. I know I have some friends who don’t really understand the whole “marriage” thing.

Drinks on a Plane

When I wrote “alleged foiling of a terrorist plot”, I did wonder if I was being too cynical. Apparently not: A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

The end of air travel?

As a result of the latest alleged foiling of a terrorist plot, new restrictions have been placed on airline travelers flying between the UK and US. Specifically: No laptops. No PDAs. No iPods or other electronic audio or video players. No books. No cameras. No beverages or other liquids. As someone used to flying, I don’t set foot on a plane without at least a book, an audio player to drown out the screaming children, and a large bottle of water.

Home, but only just

Ah, Las Vegas. It seems like only a couple of weeks since I was last here. I left Cambridge on Sunday. The taxi company called back at 09:30 to tell me the taxi was outside. I looked, and told them it wasn’t, that I was sure, that I could see the entire length of our street from the doorway, and that I was standing on the front steps of the house.

Greetings from Minnesota

[Previously “friends only”] Even you haven’t been on a plane since September, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that the entire experience was awful. It started at the airport, where less than half the check-in booths were staffed, and even the e-ticket counters had a long line of people. The terminal had been rearranged, and new walls added, to funnel everyone through one security checkpoint. Naturally there were only two scanners operating, resulting in more long lines.

Let’s hear it for private security firms

The good news: Security guards at Chicago O’Hare successfully confiscated two small folding knives found in a Nepalese student’s pocket. The bad news: Unfortunately, they failed to spot seven knives, a stun gun and a can of tear gas in his hand luggage as he carried them through the security checkpoint. He’d have carried them onto the plane if an airline employee hadn’t happened to search the guy’s bag at the gate.