So I've survived my first flight in the post-iPod era. Thankfully I was flying from Gatwick, rather than Heathrow, and suffered only a ten-minute delay. I flew to Jersey - that's Old Jersey, in the Channel Islands - which is a 35 minute flight. Just long enough for one pass each of the duty free and soft drinks trolleys.
The deal here is that although you cannot take anything through security, except a few essential items in a little see-through plastic bag, anything you buy in the departure lounge can then be taken on board, unless you are flying to the US, where you cannot take liquids in any form. You can, however, buy newspapers, books, etc, and take them on board wherever you are going. This is ok at Gatwick, which has two bookshops in the departure area, one of which has a reasonable stock. In the US this may be more of a problem. The few times I have tried to buy a novel at a US airport I have found myself forced to select from a shelf marked something like 'Oprah's Book Club'. Luckily there has been some great stuff there.
I have often reflected on the difference in design in US and UK airports. In the UK once you pass through security everyone in the same terminal waits for a while in a central departure lounge. Consequently there is sufficient foot traffic to sustain a decent range of shops. By contrast, in the airports I know in the US, passengers are dispatched quickly to their gates, and so the resulting relative low density means that you get little more than coffee shops, newspaper stands, and stalls selling baseball caps and penants.
I suppose that the first restriction to be relaxed will be to allow passengers to carry books through security. If not, maybe we'll start to see changes in the layout to US airports, to capitalise on the new retail opportunities.
My predictions usually have a very poor success rate, but being refuted within 12 hours or so is a little galling, even by my standards. It seems that we have not entered the post-iPod era after all. In some ways this is a shame. Probably the best way of reducing air travel is to make it as horrible as possible. But the threat of this has been averted. Here is the latest, from the BBC:
Long-term changes to airport security checks outlined by Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander include the following:
"Passengers can choose what to take on to a plane, but any form of liquid, fluid, lotion or gel will be banned. Electronic devices, such as laptops, will be permitted but will be thoroughly screened.
A medium-sized item of hand luggage will be permitted. This bag will be around half the size of luggage previously admitted.
Searches of passengers and their clothing will be conducted more frequently and are to be carried out by hand or using body scanners."
On Sunday night a British Airways flight was turned back after a mobile phone was heard ringing at the back of the plane. No one admitted owning the phone so flight BA179 with 217 passengers on board returned to Heathrow as a precautionary measure, prompting BA to apologise for inconvenience, although it said safety was its "number one priority".