Saturday, 2 April 2011

G4EST - a ham abroad

I have just returned from an 11 day trip to Orlando Florida and would like to tender a word of warning as regards bringing kit back.
I went to AES Orlando, a Ham  equipment supplier, and found them a friendly bunch, their shop festooned with antennae externally, and with books and mainly mobile and CB stuff internally. I purchased a 4 way antenna switch which I seem unable to obtain in the UK for a reasonable price. This is where the fun started. On returning home I thought of what the security at the airport would think of this solid (to X-Rays) bit of kit, the thought not being one of ease, so I packed it in my hand luggage. Upon entering the security area, I removed belt, shoes etc, and placed these in a tray along with my laptop, my Camera bag in a second, my jacket, iPhone, loose change and the antenna switch removed from the camera bag  in a third. I went through the metal detector arch without incident and waited for my stuff. Tray 1 sailed through. Tray 2 took longer as my camera bag held my sat-nav, video camera, camera and 3 lenses, and assorted power leads and chargers. Then Tray 3 got some attention... I could see from the end of the belt how the tray was moving... it was going back and forth, then the operators seemed to play with a setting or two. Eventually the tray appeared and the security guard grabbed the antenna switch which was still in it's transparent packaging. She looked puzzled, then asked a colleague (background scene - other passengers waiting to be processed looking frustrated). This colleague then wandered off to ask a third who seemed to recognise what it was and from that point it became a non-threat.

This process took around 3 minutes, and was facilitated by having the equipment easily available for physical inspection, I hate to think how it would have been handled had it been buried in my camera bag, or worse still in my hold luggage.

ADVICE: Think ahead and segregate any 'dubious' items out for inspection to save time through security, and avoid the daggers  emanating from other passengers held up while your equipment is being evaluated..

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