Saturday, July 14, 2012

a now empty suitcase

I brought a lot of stuff back to Turkmenistan. Those boxes and boxes in my room? It all fit in my bag somehow. This is mostly a function of the gross inefficiency of Amazon shipping combined with the magic of digitizing media onto increasingly small-sized, but large capacity hard drives.

For a single suitcase, I went right to the weight limit. Admittedly, it's somewhat esoteric if I exceed the weight limit on Lufthansa flights since I have status with them through Star Alliance. However, there is a limit on the local flight here and it is lower at 21 kg and that's the magic number I want to stay under. I'll admit that it is a trivial overweight bag fee here, but the method of payment of said bag fee is very annoying and slow and not worth the hassle so I aim to stay under the limit. Why they make me exit and then pay outside, then pass through security again is best explained as some "because Turkmenistan" logic.

All told, roughly half the bag's weight and volume were allocated to the Nintendo Wii I brought for the camp. The console itself was in my carry-on, but a Wii isn't just a Wii, right. You have the power adapter, cable, senor bar, manuals, and the controller which games with the console. But what are you going to do with just one controller and the one game that came with? So in went three additional controllers, battery charging station, plug adapters, and five more games. And all of it arrived intact to Balkanabat! Glorious. Of course, and I did not realize it until I arrived, the default power adapter for Wiis in the US is only for 110V. Almost all power bricks like the one for my laptop and even my mobile phone, can accept 110-220V (or sometimes 240V). I didn't even realize it was an issue until we were about to plug it in, but a borrowed voltage converter has smoothed it out. The remaining space in my bag was mostly additional items like coffee mugs, books, perfume, and electronics bric-a-brac that people had also had me order. My clothes made for excellent space filling and padding.

I am always amused by the inconsistencies in airport security procedures around the world. This isn't just about the peculiar nature of Ashgabat airport security. It is pretty much standard procedure to remove your laptop from your carry-on bag (or have one of those zip-down compartments that is security friendly). However, most everything else in the U.S. stays in the bag. There are some mixed messages about tablet computers, but being the stubborn person I am, I only remove my laptop. In SFO, there were no issues. In Frankfurt, my carry-on must have looked absurd. Even with the laptop out, they flagged it for additional screening. And then out came the Wii console and three Kindles (none of which were my own) that all received a second trip through the X-ray machine. In addition to those items, I had the usual power adapter, ethernet cable, lock, bag of flash drives, external hard drive, NC headphones, and other items obfuscating any clear view of my bag. Should I believe that Frankfurt was showing extra caution by running further screening on the Wii and Kindles? Or are the agents at SFO so good, they were able to make out every single item in my bag with an extremely high level of confidence?


Anonymous said...

Nothing missing en route from SFO to Balkanabad? Was everything intact? If that's the case, that must be quite an impressive security check points all around.

The productivity must have gone up now that the camp is equipped with Wii!

bttrfngr said...

TSA=Thieves Steal All

Most were never caught. Be warned.