I’ve come to accept that the “surprise and delight” of airport security is often far more surprising than it is delightful. Still, I was not entirely prepared for the scene at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport recently when security officials decided that knitting needles were too dangerous to fly. Oh, and we were cutting it close to boarding time and had already checked our bags. That added a layer of complexity to the idiocy.
For the first time in my life I wasn’t allowed to bring my knitting on board. Domestic Thai flight.
— ????Linnea Hartsuyker (@linneaharts) February 7, 2018
Yes, the needles in question are metal. They showed up on the X-ray as we headed to the gate. They even have small points on them, though hardly what anyone would consider sharp. And the three levels of inspectors drawn to the scene were having none of our protests. These knitting needles previously cleared security in dozens of other countries (most likely including prior trips to Thailand, though I’m not 100% certain of that). It would not happen on this afternoon.
And so, facing a shrinking timeline in which to deal with the situation I took the offending knitting and headed back to the check-in desk. I didn’t have much of a plan, other than to make sure the kit flew to Chiang Mai with us. Maybe the folks working the counter would have a spare box or envelope to put the knitting in. Probably not, but that was one option I was considering. I’ve also managed to have airline staff handle such “dangerous” items on my behalf and secure them on the flight deck for a trip. Similarly tipped hair sticks made the trip from Manila to Bangkok in that manner a decade ago. A corkscrew (that flew scores of flights previously) once traveled as checked “baggage” from Singapore to Perth for similar reasons. And I managed to convince an airline to carry my “prohibited” duty-free liquor as checked baggage when it was denied boarding to the US in Seoul since it was purchased in Manila.
The good news was that the check-in counters were still open. The bad news is that I wasn’t so sure about my ability to convince the agents. And I was probably the last person they’d talk to before closing down; we were under an hour to departure at this point. I took a gamble that another passenger might be more sympathetic to my struggles than the staff, so I asked for a favor.
Lynn was the last passenger to check in for the flight. She was in front of me in the line with a pretty small bag. But at least it was a bag. I tapped her on the shoulder and pleaded my case. Security was being stupid and we were all going on the same flight anyways and it was just some very light yarn and needles that would barely take up any room. Would she mind tucking it into her bag and return it to me in Chiang Mai? Inflight drinks on me if we had a deal.
She was amenable to the idea, but also didn’t plan to check the bag. It was small and light and she didn’t want to pay the THB459 (~$15) fee. The agents were not into that game, however. They insisted on weighing the bag and the 7Kg limit worked in my favor. The knitting was stowed, the bag tagged and we hustled back to security and the gate. At this point it was after the posted boarding time for the flight.
Turns out the timing wasn’t much of an issue. The inbound plane hadn’t arrived yet and boarding wouldn’t start for 15 minutes. But that didn’t matter much as we managed to make it all work.
Piece of cake. I love a good travel challenge. https://t.co/RpeHb9EObM
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) February 7, 2018
Amusingly, the hardest part was my paying out on the drinks portion of the deal. I had offered a beer initially; she countered with wine. Sure thing. Thai VietJet Airways doesn’t serve alcohol in flight. So Lynn chose the coconut water option. By the time the crew got to my row that was sold out. Strike two. At that point I asked the flight attendant to simply give the passenger in 30-C whatever she wanted and I’d pay for it. It took a few tries but eventually the message was delivered, as was a cup of coffee for 50 baht.
More from this trip:
- The worst 3 hours of travel
- My Bangkok: On the Chao Phraya
- Flying with knitting needles: Not in Bangkok!
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