Monday, March 7, 2011

the pat down

The required boarding pass at Caye Caulker.
Co-piloting the puddle jumper.

Instead of taking the water taxi back to Belize City, Shari and I, both bought puddle jumper tickets. The flight from Caye Caulker to Belize City is 17 minutes. The water taxi took an hour. Not to mention, it's cramped, choppy and after arriving at the port, you have to deal with a bunch of people all seeking refuge in the nearest taxi. It can be unsettling and chaotic.

It was a no-brainer. We both wanted to take the puddle jumper.

Shari's flight left at ten and mine departed at 2 pm. Since I was the only passenger on my flight, I became the co-pilot and even flew a little bit. Terrified, sure. Fun, absolutely.
I arrived at the International Airport and walked towards the check-in counter. I printed off my boarding pass and walked to the security check. The lady would not let me pass since my ticket was not stamped with whether or not I had paid the departure fee. I returned to the ticket counter and explained the situation to the agent. She asked how I had a ticket and I explained that I had printed it off at the kiosk. She looked surprised that I didn't have a bag to check. Apparently, this is a rarity and due to that I passed through the line quickly.
She checked my ticket and stamped it that the departure tax was included in my ticket price. I went through security and waited.
My flight to Houston was on-time and full. I filled out the customs form and waited to deboard the plane. Eventually, we disembarked and I headed towards the customs agent. He asked me the purpose of my trip, what I purchased, and other random questions. Afterwards, I briskly walked towards the main terminal. I wanted to find chips and salsa and my layover was not too long.
At this point, I am still in a secure area. Armed with a water bottle purchased at the Belize City Airport, I walk towards a security screening area. I mention this because I felt that they should allow me to keep my full bottle of water since I bought it within a secure area. No dice.
I strip down--shoes off, jacket in tub--and am directed to the full body scan. I walk in and put my arms in front of me. Apparently, I shifted my feet which altered the scan. They wouldn't let me out of security until I had the full body pat down. Really. Extremely intrusive and annoying. The security agent told me that they thought they saw something on my pelvic region from the scan. I couldn't believe it. I didn't realize that buttons would imply that I was a terroist.
Instead of apologizing when they didn't find anything, she took my passport to make a notation of who I was. Unbelievable.
I didn't appreciate having to dump my water or the full body scan. I know it is atypical to travel that lightly, but I don't like checking bags or carrying unnecessary items. Next time, I might to avoid the intrusive scan and agents. However, in my mind, I blame it on Houston....

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