Sunday, July 18, 2010

The perks of a business traveler

Mexico City, Mexico, July 16, 2010

Here I am, back from Brazil at Mexico City’s international airport, after nine hours of flying and dealing with annoying travel partners ; what can be worse when traveling for business than a vacation-mood family of 4, sitting in row 14, seats B, D, E, F with yours truly in seat C, aisle included in between, yet having a full volume conversation in Portuguese and passing pens, magazines, IPods, back goes the pen, then the pillow, then the swapping of seats and mandatory kicking or stepping on the non-related one (me), then the “shhh… she is trying to sleep” remark in an even louder tone…for the love of God!!!

It was quite early in the morning when I checked immigration before continuing with my connecting flight; all checked bags had to be removed for customs control and finally re-checked to continue with my journey.

Up to the first check point, nothing out of the ordinary from a travel routine that I know so well. We all gathered around carrousel no. 5 waiting for our bags. Baggage control in the new and improved Terminal 2 has a huge crystal wall so all passengers can witness the efficient background work and science of delivering the luggage on those train-looking carts. And then, the solely purpose of the see-thru wall was accomplished… we were witnesses of a state of the art baggage control methodology implemented between airport workers and federal police, but I have a feeling it had to be based on a thorough analysis performed by a guru in industrial engineering and chain-production plans:

1) Around 15 employees were waiting for the carts to arrive; 2 carts with 4 wagons each arrived (add one additional employee driving each cart) and along came two federal police trucks, with 3 officers plus a K-9 Labrador retriever.

2) It took them good 10-15 minutes to remove the tarp from each individual wagon while chit-chatting among them and then started to unload the bags one by one to form a line of back to back suitcases placed flat, all along the outside part of the belt – approximately 20 suitcases.

3) Then the dog – walked on top of the luggage, smelling and doing its job – back and forth, three times. Mr. Federal policeman standing proud, while his furry partner is looking eagerly for his next fix.

4) Next step was to turn, every single bag, from FLAT to SIDEWAYS …whatever.

5) Next, the guy in charge of pushing the red button started the revolving belt – inside, 200 travelers distributed along all along the carrousel were waiting… and then, the bags started to smash together when trying to pass thru the small door!!! No panic, there was another guy in charge of “traffic control” and he took over to release the bag jam.

6) Once the first load of bags passed by, the belt was intentionally stopped right after bag no. 20 barely made it thru the door! No, nobody thought it was better to keep it running until it reached all the way to the end of the belt… no, it was more logical to stop it right there and force 200 bag-looking people to gather around the first part of the belt.

7) Following right after, the lather and repeat effect: the next 20 bags were placed flat, doggie smelled and shed on them all, red-button pusher did his part, traffic jam expert helped them pass thru the door (because yes, the bags were turned sideways again and of course, they didn’t fit AGAIN!) and why not? The belt stopped right after bag number 40’s appearance… after every round, more people gathered in the same already crowded place.

At first, I was disappointed, then, embarrassed. But at the end, I had a blast!! Since I had a more than comfortable layover before my connecting flight, the stress of missing it was not present. I started making conversation with fellow travelers and we all came up with funny and sarcastic remarks (what if the dog smells other dogs in the bags? Would he pee a little to mark territory or he was too professional for that kind of behavior?) We even wondered about the procedure if the dog had found “something” – would they stop the whole operation or, hmm, I don’t know, from the top of my head, crazy idea, maybe just remove the one and continue?

How come nobody thought that the dog could walk all along the belt WHILE MOVING? Or maybe have the Federal Police control a few steps from the baggage claim- in the customs control area- where they do a X-RAY SCAN of every single piece of luggage (carry-on included!!). It is a mystery what the clever logic behind this state-of –the-art way of checking for drugs may be (if there is some), but one thing is for sure: they are so proud of it that want all of us to see it….and in my case, to share it.


  1. You have to wonder about those separated families. It's like they go "We might be bored on the flight, so you can seat some random person traveling alone in the middle of us? One of our favorite family activities is frustrating strangers. It really brings us closer together."

    The thought of the dog being "too professional" to mark its territory made me laugh.

  2. Amiguita, if they don't put the suitcases sideways every time, what is the poor "traffic jam expert" guy going to do? He might (gasp!) lose his job since that's the ONLY thing he obviously does all day!! :)


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