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I was frisked at Sydney Airport. The worst thing was how long it took



I was cleaning out my handbag the other day and I came across a folded piece of paper that I’d been carrying around for a few weeks.

“Consent to search form”, it reads.

There’s no point getting shirty about delays at the airport security check.Credit: iStock

I’d been issued it in early February at Sydney domestic airport, where I’d been thoroughly searched after the 3D scanner identified me as having something that might have been a bomb strapped to my front.

I went through three times and each time the device showed a large patch across my chest to my waist. I was wearing a button-through linen shirt and loose pants, and I’d removed anything metal on my body. I don’t have any artificial joints or a pacemaker.

I’m grateful for efficient airport security. But it’s inconsistent throughout the world, including in Australia, where some airports now don’t require you to take out your laptop and liquids when your bags are going through the X-ray machine, and some do.

Even within airports, as I discovered recently in Sydney international, some lines have the newer system which can scan laptops and liquids in the bag, and others don’t. I guess the more sophisticated technology is still being rolled out. And that’s fine, if confusing.

It’s unpleasant to have an officious security officer yell at you because in this one instance you didn’t take out your laptop, but in most cases I find these people have the patience of saints, as bewildered travellers hold up lines emptying all kinds of ephemera out of their bags just as they’re putting it on the conveyor belt.

Travel is stressful and we sometimes do silly things when distracted. It’s pointless getting mad at anyone, travellers and security staff alike. After all, what do we lose in the transaction? About 30 seconds of delay in getting through at the other end.

For some reason, the newer 3D scanners that use non-ionising millimetre-wave technology usually identify a hot spot under my arm, which requires further scanning with a handheld device. Ultimately, I’m always let through. I’ve heard that the culprit can sometimes be as nondescript as a deodorant that contains minerals.

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