SYDNEY - Your flight is leaving in less than an hour, and you’re stuck in highway traffic miles away.
Finally, the taxi drops you off on Airport Drive, and you rush inside to discover huge lines of people with heaps of luggage. You frantically search for your confirmation number so you can print your boarding pass but cannot find it anywhere.
“I’m never making this flight,” you think ... or are you?
If this scenario is applied to airports in America, there is a good chance you are not getting on that plane. But in Australia, the situation is a little different.
No confirmation number? No problem. All you need is your last name.
I was shocked during my first encounter at Sydney Airport when the boarding pass booth prompted me with “Surname.”
I had written my confirmation number down in two different places – a little paranoid, I know – but I did not want anything to stop me from making my flight to Hervey Bay. (Hervey Bay is the port to Fraser Island, a weekend vacation of four-wheel driving and camping on the beach.)
I typed in my surname and my flight information appeared. I printed out my pass.
I had chosen the “Lite” option when booking my flight to save $20. This meant that I would not be checking any bags. So with boarding pass in hand, I proceeded to security, ready to disrobe the appropriate layers.
But as I joined the line in front of the metal detectors, I noticed that everyone was still wearing his or her shoes, sweatshirts and jackets that would normally have to be removed in America if they were still being worn.
Following the crowd, I simply put my suitcase on the moving belt and passed through the detector with “no dramas,” as the Aussies say. The entire process, from arriving at
the airport to reaching my gate, took about 20 minutes.
Surely international flights would be stricter, I thought before my trip to New Zealand a few weeks ago.
My friends and I arrived at the airport extra early for that flight, but it was a waste. The only difference, besides filling out a customs form and using the international terminal, was that we were required to print our itinerary before checking in.
We did not even end up needing to show it, so the purpose of having it is unclear.
At first, the laxity of airport security in Australia was a bit frightening.
But in reality, nothing tragic has ever happened in Australia’s air business to make it necessary to tighten security procedures. It is almost a comfort to travel in an environment where there are no feelings of apprehension or uneasiness.
However, it makes make me wonder if Australia should be more wary of what lax airport conditions can mean for those who want to take advantage.
“I had a lighter in my carry-on during my trip to Melbourne and passed through security. I didn’t even know it was in there,” said Stefanie Richards, an Elon University student studying abroad in Sydney this semester.
Richards, of course, meant no harm by bringing the lighter, but there is still no excuse for security to overlook this potential threat.
This is my last week in Sydney, and I am in no way ready to return to real life in America. At least I know, though, that checking in my copious amounts of luggage and dealing with international procedures will be quick and hassle-free.