How airport security can save the world from bad travel television

Airport security: legit Airport security: legit

Airport security checkpoints have got to become the ultimate yardstick for human development. First, you queue – a task that has set us apart from creatures since the invention of the hot drink. Second, you show an official your own ticket so they can be sure you actually have a plane to catch and are not just queuing for the sake of it. Then comes the tricky bit: eliminate shoes, coat, keys, wallet, unpack laptop. Put in plastic bin. Drive bin over rollers into darkish box of lasers. Walk by means of metal detector. Beep. Bugger, belt. Start again.

Add the need to do all this at a thousand mls an hour because of the people behind you and we have the ultimate test of co-ordination, comprehension and speed. Pass, and then you’re the travel maestro; a step over the swing-door king, two ahead of the knight of the registration form. Fluff it, and you might as well change your title back to Homo erectus .

It was during one of these tests at New York’s JFK International Airport that I inadvertently took a laptop. I aced the security checkpoint and had packed my laptop back into my bag. Clearly nevertheless blinded by my success being a modern-day human, I immediately did not remember I’d just done that. A precise replica of my laptop jumped out of the dark laser box. I actually grabbed it, packed it plus went to my boarding gate . 10 minutes later I was in an interrogation room with two of New York’s finest. I may as well have been in an episode of Law & Purchase.

One of the officers’ gold badges flickered as it caught the particular reflection of a slow-turning ceiling enthusiast. ‘You, sir, have got to be the dumbest criminal I have ever met. Who all steals a laptop in front of airport security? ’

‘Person’, I mumbled, looking at the two matching laptops on the table. ‘Dumbest person. ’

They proceeded to accomplish the best good cop, bad policeman routine I’d ever seen. They reviewed the CCTV footage, listened to my feeble explanation and finally concluded that I wasn’t a dumb criminal and, as I had explained, simply a dumb person. They let me proceed.

On the aeroplane, I actually pictured them speeding through the roads of NYC, executing handbrake turns, eating doughnuts and shooting baddies in helicopters with shotguns. I actually smiled. I’d had an authentic New York City experience – the way I’d frequently imagined it. Or rather, the way I’d always seen it in the news.

What we see in those moving pictures on the wall space of our homes influences how we understand our world. And I’m not just speaking about cops-and-robbers shows (at least we know that’s fiction), I’m talking about truth television…

When it comes to truth travel programmes, most miss the particular golden opportunity to show us something new and insightful. Take for example Top Traveling on SABC3, the show that will jets you around the world and shows you absolutely nothing while you’re there. The good-looking presenters, Jeannie D plus Janez Vermeiren, dazzle us on its big brother show, Top Billing. Yet when it comes to travel, they bobble and skate the surface of ‘must-see’ golf courses, ski resorts, spas and hotels with all the dexterity plus insight of a pair of Chihuahuas hobbling around in high heels.

Excessive adhesion to this sort of mindless TV is causing dark gooey spots in our brains; spots that may be scanned for by airport safety (I mean, the dark laserlight box is already there) and flagged as ‘dangerous’ because they make us forget that travelling isn’t regarding throwing parties and catching golden skin tone, it’s about releasing prejudices plus giving yourself over to a place and its people.

But there is hope. Maybe one day we’ll get to a point where we’ve become so desperately discombobulated that broadcasters will begin scraping the top of the barrel that more discerning, Michael Palin-type presenters are stuck like wise old pieces of chewing gum. Presenters who appreciate that travelling smarter doesn’t indicate stuffing your traveller’s cheques within your underpants; it means having a purpose to learn a new culture.


Column obtained from Excess Baggage (Getaway magazine November 2013 – on sale now). Within the December issue, Tyson Jopson wonders if Gauteng’s eToll gantries might be better suited as an ancient relic. Read it on shelves twenty five November.

Getaway magazine, November 2013

This article, How airport security conserve the world from bad travel television, was originally posted on the Escape Blog by Tyson Jopson .

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Airport security: legit Airport safety: legit

Airport security checkpoints have got to be the ultimate yardstick for human evolution. First, you queue – an activity which has set us apart from animals because the invention of the hot beverage. Second, you show an official your ticket so they can be sure you actually have a plane to catch and aren’t simply queuing for the sake of it. Then arrives the tricky bit: remove shoes, coat, keys, wallet, unpack laptop. Put in plastic bin. Push bin over rollers into dark box of lasers. Walk through metal detector. Beep. Bugger, belt. Start again.

Add the need to do all this at a thousand miles one hour because of the people behind you and we have the ultimate test of co-ordination, comprehension and speed. Pass, and you are the particular travel maestro; a step above the particular swing-door king, two ahead of the dark night of the registration form. Fluff this, and you might as well change your name back to Homo erectus .

It was during one of these tests at New York’s JFK International Airport that I inadvertently stole a laptop. I aced the security gate and had packed my laptop back in my bag. Clearly still blinded by my success as a modern-day human, I immediately forgot I’d just done that. An exact imitation of my laptop popped out of the dark laser box. I grabbed it, packed it and went to my boarding gate … 10 minutes later I was in an interrogation area with two of New York’s finest. I may as well have been in an show of Law & Order.

One of the officers’ gold badges flickered as it caught the reflection of a slow-turning ceiling fan. ‘You, sir, have got to be the dumbest criminal I have ever met. Who shop lifts a laptop in front of airport safety? ’

‘Person’, I actually mumbled, looking at the two matching notebooks on the table. ‘Dumbest person. ’

They proceeded to do the very best good cop, bad cop regimen I’d ever seen. They reviewed the CCTV footage, listened to my feeble explanation and finally concluded that I actually wasn’t a dumb criminal plus, as I had explained, just a foolish person. They let me go.

On the aeroplane, I pictured them speeding through the streets associated with NYC, executing handbrake turns, consuming doughnuts and shooting baddies in helicopters with shotguns. I smiled. I’d had an authentic New York City experience – the way I’d always thought it. Or rather, the way I’d always seen it on TV.

What we see in all those moving pictures on the walls in our homes influences how we understand the world. And I’m not just talking about cops-and-robbers shows (at least we know that is fiction), I’m talking about reality television…

When it comes to reality journey programmes, most miss the golden opportunity to show us something new plus insightful. Take for example Top Travel on SABC3, the show that jets you around the world and teaches you nothing at all while you’re there. Its good-looking presenters, Jeannie D and Janez Vermeiren, dazzle us on its big brother show, Top Billing. However when it comes to travel, they bobble plus skate the surface of ‘must-see’ golf courses, ski resorts, spas plus hotels with all the dexterity and insight of a pair of Chihuahuas hobbling close to in high heels.

Too much adhesion to this sort of mindless TV is causing dark gooey areas in our brains; spots that could be scanned for by airport security (I mean, the dark laser box is already there) and flagged because ‘dangerous’ because they make us forget that travelling isn’t about throwing parties and catching tans, it is about releasing prejudices and giving yourself over to a place and its people.

But there is wish. Maybe one day we’ll get to a place where we’ve become so frantically discombobulated that broadcasters will start scraping the top of the barrel to which a lot more discerning, Michael Palin-type presenters are usually stuck like wise old items of chewing gum. Presenters who realise that will travelling smarter doesn’t mean filling your traveller’s cheques in your underpants; it means having a purpose to explore a new culture.


Column taken from Excess Baggage (Getaway magazine November 2013 – on sale now). In the Dec issue, Tyson Jopson wonders if Gauteng’s eToll gantries might be much better suited as an ancient relic. Look at it on shelves 25 November.

Getaway magazine, November 2013

This article, How airport security can save the entire world from bad travel television, had been originally posted on the Getaway Weblog by Tyson Jopson .

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  • South Africa’s answer to The Crocodile Hunter, kind of

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