Monday, January 05, 2009

No I.E.D.s Allowed On Aircraft


Luang Prabang, Laos – At Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, you can smoke inside the terminal. There are several ashcans there for the smokers.

On the wall just outside baggage screening, there was a poster declaring what goods cannot be taken on the flight, along with encircled pictures with the red diagonal slash, the universal depiction of ‘cannot’.

‘No Weapons or Firearms,’ with a picture of a .45 automatic.

‘No Accelerants or Flammables,’ such as this can of gasoline.*

‘No I.E.D.s (Improvised Explosive Devices) Allowed Onboard Aircraft,’ with an illustration of a bundle of dynamite, some wires, and a clock.

As we stood waiting for our flight, I pointed to the poster and asked the young Australian if he had removed the I.E.D.s from his backpack. He laughed and said he had.

*Two years ago, at Wattay airport in Vientiane I saw an old Lao man with his family and their belongings attempting to board a Lao Airline plane with two gallons of gas in a container with a rag stuffed in the opening for the lost cap. He made it through the non-existent security, through the gate and out to the tarmac, and was about to board when they stopped him, telling him he couldn’t take his gas on board.

The old man seemed perplexed, but offered no argument.