Inane Filipino Airport Security
Cebu City (Cebu), Philippines
Please, someone tell me what the rational is behind the absurd "double x-ray" at the airports in this country.
Here's the scenario: I'm walking around with Tatiana in the domestic departures terminal of the Cebu City airport, searching for a ticketing agent that can check us in for our flight to Manila. The signs in this structure aren't particularly helpful, and we decide to proceed towards an oddly out of place security checkpoint.
Queuing for reasons I didn't understand, we could see the airline ticketing agents a few dozen meters behind the checkpoint. Security was not only screening all baggage through an x-ray machine, but also passing people through a metal detector and verifying that passengers had reason to go beyond (proof of flight, such as a electronic ticket printout).
I had my itinerary printed out, but Tatiana had modified her flight over the phone, and had nothing but her original ticket out of Manila with her. After arguing with the broken-English speaking security officer for a bit, he finally bounced us out of line and pointed down the hall of the terminal.
I tried to sort out the madness in my head: You need a ticket to get to the airline ticketing agent—the people where you buy tickets from—without a ticket you can't get a ticket. Not only that, but they're screening all the baggage before you even get the opportunity to check items that you aren't suppose to take on the flight (such as knives and liquids). I was baffled… Maybe there's a problem with people robbing the ticketing agents with pistols, I thought.
At the end of the concourse we found an Cebu Pacific airlines office that helped sort Tatiana out, while I wondered about the nonsensical process we were about to endure for no good reason.
On the opposite side of the x-ray and metal detector the staff spoke to me as I was picking up my bag, hurried checked in for the flight.
"You've got knives in there," one said.
"Yep," I replied, curtly.
"You'll have to check that bag," the staffer continued.
"I was planning on it," I answered, walking away from him.
As a former student and developer of process improvement in operational environments, this sort of thing gets under my skin. It's almost like someone ordered a few too many x-ray machines, and officials, scrambling to cover up their mistake, tossed a checkpoint at the entrance to the row of airline agents.
So after checking in, it seems to duties of airline ticket purchases have been removed from the agents. Their job is solely to check bags and print tickets. So that now the process looks something like this: Buy ticket from office in terminal, phone, or Internet; pass through security; check in for flight and hand over any baggage; pass through security, again; wait for flight; give ticket to gate agent, slipping my non-regulation backpack past the staff; fly.
The only thing that I can really think of is that there are so many Filipinos flying that don't understand what you can and can't bring on flights that there's a need to warn passengers about the contents of their (perceived) carry-on items. That, or there's such a problem with Islamic terrorism from the south that officials are afraid someone will detonate something further inside the structure. Who knows—all I see another invasive, unnecessary bottleneck.