The Duty Free Gauntlet at Glasgow Airport

(and now, I am not IN Glasgow, though Facebook still seems to think I am; this was originally posted before I left on 10/22):I had a quite a time getting out of the UK … starting with being told at the KLM desk at the Glasgow airport that I would not be allowed on to my flight to Amsterdam with the same carry-ons that I’d started the flight with in Atlanta – a small suitcase with all my camera gear, and a shoulder bag with laptop, iPad, etc.

>KLM – Delta’s partner for these itineraries – has their own draconian baggage limits.  Where in the US there are no weight (only size) restrictions on carry-ons, KLM imposes a limit of 12 kilograms  – about 26-1/2 pounds.  I don’t remember now what my carry-ons weighed out to, but whatever it was, the woman at the KLM desk wasn’t going to let me take it on the plane.

“But it was fine when I checked in with Delta in Nashville,” I protested.

“You’re not flying Delta now. You’re flying KLM” she replied, with all the kindness and compassion of a Nazi saying “you’re in Germany now…”

I struggled to get enough cameras and lenses into the already quite full bag that I was going to check in (the first one is always free…) so that I could carry the rest on with me.  That struggle included feeding 1-pound coins into a scale each time I was ready to re-weigh what I’d re-arranged.   I did that to the tune of four pounds… all to no avail.

By the time I’d gotten the carry-ons down to 12.2 kilos there was almost nothing left in the camera bag, making it pointless to drag it around with me.  So I repacked everything back the way I’d originally packed it, and then paid the seventy euros (about U$90*) to check in my camera gear – at which point all I could do was cross my fingers and hope that it would a) show up at the other end and b) show up undamaged.

Once I’d cleared that hurdle – i.e. just getting checked in, then I went through the usual security corridor… you know, take everything out of your carry on (laptop, iPad), take of your boots, take off your belt, take everything out of your pockets (including my passport??) and then assume the position.

But what really floored me is what you see in the photo below: once you’ve gotten your bags checked and cleared security, before you can get even close to your departure gate at Glasgow Airport, you have to run a hundred-yard gauntlet of Duty Free Shopping outlets.  A serpentine corridor of liquor, makeup, high-end chocolate and I don’t know else stands between you and your actual departure.

I haven’t really said much about it here, but I really didn’t like Glasgow all that much to begin with (it sure isn’t Edinburgh – or maybe I just didn’t quite find the cool parts…), and this experience just gave me one more reason to figure I’ll probably never go back there again…

Behold: the Duty Free Gauntlet:

The “Duty Free” gauntlet you have to run between security and the gates at Glasgow airport. #leaveyourlastpoundshere? @historicscotland @welovehistory @visitscotland @GreatBritain @TwitterUK
©2014 paul@cohesionarts.com aka @driver49
*to their credit, Delta has offered a refund for the $90 that KLM charged me for the excess baggage.  I’m still waiting for a check to arrive in the mail – they said it could take up to three weeks.  I say that grateful that at least the bags all showed up at the end of the flight…


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Paul Schatzkin