Note: This was typed up on my laptop during the second leg of my journey, from Amsterdam to Helsinki.
Because typing is far easier than writing by hand whilst on an airplane, I am going to make a small record of my travels here!
So far, traveling has gone pretty smoothly. I had to walk extremely quickly through Amsterdam-Schipol airport, because my gate was so far away – and then I hadn’t realized that I would need to go through security again at Amsterdam airport! I went through airport security at Glasgow International, and all was well – but going through Amsterdam airport there was a bit of a snag. After the nice blonde (presumably Dutch) guy chatted with me, commented that I study in England, and promptly stamped the other side of my visa page with another stamp (presumably the visa-free Schengen stamp?), I got to the security line. I did the usual security line thing – take laptop out of backpack, take laptop out of its protective sleeve, throw bag into a separate bin, take off jacket and scarf… etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
What I forgot to do – and was one of several things in my backpack that they found particularly suspicious – was take my epi-pen out of my backpack. Moreover, my epi-pen (with its needle showing up on the X-ray machines as about 3-4 centimeters long) had come out of its box and nestled itself in the bottom of my bag.
Another friendly blonde (presumably Dutch) guy was nice enough when going through my bag. “Can you unzip the large compartment please, without putting your hands inside?” he asked.
“Yes, sure, of course I can,” I replied, feeling nervous even though I knew I didn’t have anything explosive or illegal in my bag, only worry in the back of my mind that I was going to be late for my flight. I did so, and he poked inside. I’m too worried about being late for my flight to be all that concerned with him seeing my black boyshorts (always keep spare undies in case your luggage gets lost, folks). He pokes around as I say, “Just so you know, there is an epi-pen in there, if that’s what you guys saw – I also just wanted to let you know that there’s a potential sharp, even though it’s in its protective case.”
“That’s fine.” He took a look at the prescription box, then mentioned offhandedly, “It looked like you had a lot of metal – probably coins. Can you open the smaller compartment please, without putting your hands inside?” I did so (“of course,”) and he poked around in there as well. He grabbed my coin purse and opened it up, poking around inside. There were quite a few coins in it, even though I had thrown a lot of the coppers into my spare change box this morning in my room. He seemed to have an “aha, that was it” moment, before putting it back in my bag and poking around a bit more. “Can you open the smallest front compartment for me please?” he asked. Why the hell not, I guess. I did so, and he poked in there for a few seconds.
“All right, it’s fine,” he said, smiling. “You can go. Have a nice trip!”
And then I was off! Run, run (okay, walk quick, walk quick) to gate D78! (When I started searching for D78, I was at gate D8.) Walk quick, walk quick!!
The announcements in Amsterdam-Schipol airport, by the way, are amazing. “Mr. Kevin Xiong… YOU ARE DELAYING THE FLIGHT. REPORT TO GATE D52 IMMEDIATELY, OR YOUR LUGGAGE WILL BE OFF LOADED. Thank you. ” There was more than one announcement like that in the remaining 10 minutes I had in that airport. I couldn’t help but start cracking up while standing on the flat people mover thing, even though I was still running on a tight schedule. Kevin Xiong, how dare you delay your flight…. (**I don’t remember the guy’s actual name, Kevin Xiong was just the first name that popped into my head, sorry if I have offended any Kevin Xiongs.)
To be honest with you, I knew for sure that I was at the proper gate D78 not only by the annuncement board (KLM 1171 TO HELSINKI), but by the appearance and behavior of the majority of the people waiting at that lovely gate D78. Reserved. Quiet. Avoiding looking at each other. Trying to keep as much personal space as possible in a confined space. Yep, here were the Finns! I was in my happy place, and made sure to make no eye contact whatsoever and stay out of any obviously uncomfortable Finn’s personal space wherever possible. Not easy, but do-able. It’s the least I can do when visiting someone’s home country!
I arrived at the gate somehow 4 minutes before beginning the official boarding time at 20:05. We were fully boarded at 20:25 and pushing off from the gate by 20:30… and were in the air by 20:35, precisely on time. I’ve gotta say, even though I’ve only taken two KLM flights (and I’m on the second one right now), they know how to get boarded and in the air on time. Such maximum efficiency!
Or maybe all of that credit is more deserving of the Finns. :) Looking forward to being there!