Geotagged at the Nokia gate5 office in Schönhauser Allee, Berlin (52.5308072,13.4108176)

Airport Security X-Ray Oddness

Since I started my role at Nokia in Berlin in May of last year I've swapped the daily commute from home to work by train to a weekly commute by plane. This means I have to pass through airport security at London's Heathrow and Berlin's Tegel airports around twice a week. I tend to travel as light as I can, with a hand baggage sized suitcase so I can get off the plane and out of the airport as quickly as I possibly can, something Tegel airport excels at.

Taking the law of averages into account, I should be subject to random additional security searches and although the law of averages is generally considered a fallacy, about once a month my hand baggage gets that extra special level of attention. But it always seems to be for the same thing.

These Are Identical ... To Airport Security

The security staff at Tegel are terribly polite and ask me in the nicest way possible whether I wouldn't mind if they took a look in my suitcase (of course, although it's phrased in a way that appears I have a choice in the matter, I really don't). Whereas the staff at Heathrow are a lot more brusque, with the conversation much more along the lines of "open your suitcase please Sir".

At Tegel, the security staff at least tell me what they think we're looking for ... "do you have a can of drink in your suitcase?" ... something I don't try to carry onto a plane as it's not permitted under the current "100 ml of liquids and gels in a clear plastic ziplock bag" rule. At Heathrow, they merely frown and poke around in my luggage.

So at both airports, the X-Ray machine seems to show a can of drink in my suitcase. But why? Each time this has happened the root cause is the same; a small, rectangular plastic box which holds my spare business cards, which when found in my suitcase elicits a confused frown, a brief inspection and muttered apologies and I'm sent on my way, sometimes with a "have a good flight" (Tegel) or a curt "thank you" (Heathrow).

I wish I could understand why a small, rectangular object should be mistaken for a significantly larger, cylindrical object under airport security X-Ray, but I can't. Oddly enough, this never seems to happen with airport security in the US; maybe they have different X-Ray machines.

Photo Credits: Vicchi on Flickr.

Gary Gale

I'm Gary ... a Husband, Father, CTO at Kamma, geotechnologist, map geek, coffee addict, Sci-fi fan, UNIX and Mac user