Friday, September 19, 2008

Special Treatment

When we arrived in Xian we took a taxi into town which cost us about 130RMB ($19) for a 45 minute ride.

But we smartened up and on the way back took the airport bus at 27RMB ($3.94) each.

We just happened to pass by the Melody Hotel near the Drum and Bell Towers where we saw the airport bus and inquired for details (leaves every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of the clock).

And it's on time, your suitcase is labelled and you get a luggage tag and then you get on the bus and it takes almost an hour to get to the Xian Xiangyang International Airport, stopping at two terminals.

We got there a bit too early and weren't allowed to check in more than two hours in advance... something we found out the hard way (waiting in line then turned away when it was our turn).

While we were waiting we saw a Chinese man have his luggage opened up and an officer pulled out a large pop bottle that was obviously opened and filled with a different colour liquid in it.

What was that liquid? It didn't look like a drink. The officer questioned him and even got his colleague to come over for a second opinion, opening it and smelling it.

We were sure the bottle would be confiscated for its suspicious appearance.

But no, they let him go and even put the bottle back in his suitcase.

I hoped he wouldn't be on our flight.

After we checked in, this time in five minutes, we had to go through an identification check and go through security checks, the standard metal detector and hand luggage X-ray.

We lined up with everyone else, but after the security officer realized I had a foreign passport, she made me go to another line that I didn't even know existed.

Our bags went through the X-ray machine fine, but after I went through the metal detector -- that seemed to be very sensitive -- I was wanded.

But this wasn't enough. I was asked to take my runners off and put them through the X-ray machine as well.

Excuse me?

It seemed us foreigners were not trustworthy enough and had to go through extra scrutiny that was bizarre considering moments earlier a Chinese guy was carrying a weird liquid in his suitcase.

While the security staff were polite, the double standard was a strange experience. Were the extra security measures in place meant to make us foreigners feel safer or feel more alien?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We flew in and out of Xi'an too, and our experience was that of utter frustration. The airline clerks were snarky and goofed up our boarding passes completely. Luckily the gate agents fixed them. And the terminal is stupidly large and overly complex. Ah, China.