Airport Security Blues

Atanu Dey and I were waiting at the depature gate at Mumbai airport for our flight to Ahmedabad. A lady with three young kids (including one in a stroller) was stopped and asked to go back  upstairs to the security check since one of her bags did not have the stamp. She said there is no way she could do this – with the kids in tow and all her bags. (She had just arrived from a long flight from Chicago. ) The airport authorities refused to budge. Atanu pointed out that the failure of the security folks to stamp her baggage tag was not her problem. The heartless people, who were of course just following the rules, refused to budge. There was commotion and an impasse.

The way the rules are made are quite silly. And people who follow these silly rules don’t even understand the logic and question what they are doing. And for anyone trying to suggest that the rules are faulty and need to be changed, we will have the bogey of national security be thrown. But the reality is that in no other airport in the world have I seen this stupid stamping system and then the stamps checked by 3-4 different people by the time one boards the airport. They only see the stamps, nothing else.

I tried to search for someone who had an extra baggage tag with the stamp that could be transferred to the lady’s bag! But given that most passengers had boarded, that was hard to come by. I finally decided to take the lady’s bag up to security check myself and have it stamped. (Luckily, there is no rule which says that the passenger must be present when the stamp is done.) Always a workaround.

As Atanu said afterwards, why is it that we don’t think about how to make things better? Out of that simple desire come the Steve Jobs of the world.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.