Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Departing Cairo ~ A ‘touch’ and go affair

Gently her hands circled my breasts before moving down my rib cage, then up my back and front in a seemingly unbroken motion of discovery. She’d averted her eyes as we stood face-to-face barely inches apart, her concentration focused on what she was – or wasn’t – feeling. Her palms down my arms, around my wrists; up the leg – all the way – and down the other. Front and back, round and round.
It reminded me of some of the massages and the Turkish bath that I’ve willingly shelled out big bucks to experience. This was, however, free and to my way of thinking, had a much bigger potential health payoff:  it just might just keep some nut from boarding my flight and blowing it out of the sky.

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View from the plane as we depart Cairo, Egypt
That wasa portion of the security check we underwent just inside the newly renovated Terminal 2 at the Cairo Airport. The terminal, scheduled to open in late 2015 had been only open for two weeks before our December 2016 departure.

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Still so new it looks almost empty - Terminal 2 Cairo Airport
The sleek, modern building is expected to boost annual passenger capacity by 8 million. It’s expanded capacity, which will include accommodating those enormous double-decker A380 planes, is hoped to play a role in luring travelers back to Egypt. In articles about the new terminal tourism officials said that in addition to enlarging the terminal they were taking steps to make visitors feel safe while visiting the country.

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Plenty of eateries from which to choose - one day anyway
If our experience at the airport is any indication, they are taking that safety and security business seriously.

That first security checkpoint was footsteps inside the front doors. Bags, coats, and shoes went into bins and through an enormous scanner (we find it curious that after the ‘Shoe Bomber’ incident a few years back we often are NOT required to remove shoes when going through airport screening on that side of the Atlantic).  Here shoes were off then humans walked through a scanner, then were hand searched as I described above.

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New shop being readied in Terminal 2 Cairo Airport
That was the first of four such thorough security checks we would encounter between the front door and our boarding gate. A second one was done after obtaining our boarding passes and checking bags. British Airways required boarding passes be issued at the airport, you couldn’t print them out in advance.

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Business Class lounge - Cairo Airport
The third screening was just outside the Business Class lounge that serves several airlines.  The lounge was spacious and comfortable and made waiting for the flight a pleasant experience. However, just steps outside the lounge we again ran bags through screening machines, walked through a scanner and again each of us was ‘patted down’. (We had to wait a bit until they could round up a woman to ‘pat me down’ at this checkpoint.)

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New terminal 2 at Cairo Airport
We entered the waiting area at our gate by walking through a scanner and there officers ran a swab over our clothes and bags – all belongings -- then checked the swab for traces of explosives. By then we’d had enough screenings; I’d announced the glamour days of travel were long gone. We’d pulled out and replaced into our bags our computer and the plastic bag of carryon liquids enough times for one day (although we did it again in London). Our passport and boarding pass had been scrutinized by many. . . enough, already!

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Waiting area Terminal 2 Cairo Airport
Intimate and intense pre-boarding security checks aren’t new to us and like other frequent travelers we could probably tell a horror story about the process encountered at any of the major European and American big city airports.  But because I’ve devoted a number of posts to the wonders we’ve encountered in Egypt, I felt I needed to tell a bit more of ‘the rest of the story’. Airport security is intense if not tedious, but after two recent plane crashes of undetermined-but-suspected-terrorism causes, it should be.

We’d been home only a few days when the Seattle Times newspaper ran an Associated Press story, about the crash of the EgyptAir flight last spring.

It was headlined, Explosives found on crash victims of EgyptAir flight
'CAIRO – Traces of explosive have been found on some victims of an EgyptAir flight from Paris that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea in May, Egypt’s government said Thursday, a find that could deal another major blow the country’s tourism sector.'

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Tourism in Egypt has tanked thanks both to a well-publicized revolution in 2011 and those two airplane crashes not to mention a couple other attacks on tourists. Many of you have written comments saying that safety concerns are keeping you from visiting.  And while I’ve written glowingly of our explorations, both with guides and on our own during our last two visits, the environment is one that not all travelers – no matter how well-traveled – may want to tackle.  However, we are already excited about what we will do in Egypt next March when we fly via Cairo to get back to Greece! 

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A final smoggy view of Cairo from departing flight
It’s a new year and we hope it is filled with travel adventures for you – whether real time or armchair.  We do want sincerely thank you for the time you’ve spent reading our posts, sharing them with others (the icing on the cake!) and for taking time to comment or send an email about them.  Our world is better because you are a part of it!  Until next week, stay safe and be happy!

Linking up:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

37 comments:

  1. Loved your opening Jackie - a real attention grabber! While we're not the most patient of line waiters (in fact we signed up for the GOES program almost as soon as it was introduced) we certainly appreciate the fact that airlines and airports are doing their best to protect passengers and crew. Gone are the days when flying was a glamorous adventure and gone, too, are the days when we could take our safety for granted. :(

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    1. Thanks! We've also signed up for PreCheck and Global Entry and the latter really has saved us hours of wait time. PreCheck, since they've opened it to the multitudes that they deem safe without going through what we did to be approved, has become a long tedious wait again.

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  2. Because these things have happened in Egypt, they're much more vigilant than they are in many other countries where they don't feel as threatened. It seems a particularly good time to visit Egypt!

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    1. You are right and from yesterday's headline news in the U.S. it looks like we'll likely be tightening up at our airports as well.

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  3. I have to admit - I had no idea where you were going with the opening quote - but, well done! What a world we leave in, and what we have to endure to travel it. The only similar experience I had was in Israel flying from Eilat to Tel Aviv. I appreciated the intense security process, but it was unnerving, to say the least. Happy New Year, Jackie and Joel! Happy Travels!

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    1. We were in Israel for three days of our fall cruise and I have to say that while all the security checks should have made me feel safe, they unnerved me. I felt I was constantly 'on guard' which is sad for such a lovely country with such an amazing history! Happy New Year to you as well!!!

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  4. Good on you for going where others don't dare to or care to and I love that you are excited about your next trip. I agree that the security checks would be welcome but they might be also just a little repetitive.

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    1. Yesterday's shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport is an example of how you just can't protect travelers from 'the nut' or the 'zealot' out there who is hell-bent on destroying lives. I suspect we will be tightening security in the US based on the sad events in Florida. (And it made me realize that seldom - if ever - on any of our travels have we seen tight security in baggage claim. People freely enter and exit the area from the outside at SeaTac for example. Yikes!

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  5. Patience is not one of my strengths, especially during security, even though I understand the whys it's so invasive. Go through it twice to leave South Africa to USA. Yet it seems a small price to pay for exploring a place worthy of a return. I like the green spaces between the buildings in your last shot.

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    1. We changed planes in London and therefore had to go through security there as well. I guess my Timex watch set off the alarm so I had to have the secondary x-ray machine check where you stand sideways, hands above the head, while a door swings shut and opens. Problem was they couldn't get the door to swing and I waited, and waited and waited and finally asked the agent next to me if they couldn't pat me down and wand me. No, I had to wait for the xray machine and I have to admit I had the thought, what if I get in there and the door freezes shut and I melt down on the spot as result of radiation. ;-) Oh, the joys of travel!!!

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  6. I do feel sad for the situation Egypt is experiencing. I have so many good memories from there. I am glad the government is taking steps to make things more secure. You have time to make a lot of nice plans for your return. #TPThursday

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    1. Yes, there are so many other places to see in Egypt and so much more of Cairo to explore that it will be difficult to decide what to see and do on our short stop over!

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    1. And the same good wishes to you! Happy Happy 2017. Stay in touch~

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  8. Based on what you wrote, it sounds like the pat-downs (feel-ups?) are a normal part of screening that everyone must do. Is that so? When we were traveling throughout China, we would get patted down each time -- even my daughter who was 8 years old at the time. I do realize that it's all in an effort to keep passengers safe, but it does seem rather offputting while it's going on. (I have a flight booked to Ft. Lauderdale in the few months. On my last few trips anywhere, I've started scoping out exit points whenever we enter the airport.)

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    1. Yes, it is required of all passengers not just those randomly selected. As for Fort Lauderdale, we'd booked a flight there in the event our Washington Huskies made it to the Championship game being played Monday night in Florida. We was Friday, same day as the shooting there. We'd cancelled our reservations when our team lost. . .dangerous really can be anywhere these days, even baggage claim.

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  9. Hi, Jackie. What a difference between the old airport and the new. I can remember being surprised at how small and dumpy the old airport was. This looks like a pleasant change. Security screening is here to stay. The worst place for me is China. I get the need for it, but I still say UGH! Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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    1. This one is going to be stunning when all the shops have opened. And as events like last Friday's shooting in Fort Lauderdale continue to take place, you are correct, security screening is here to stay!

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  10. The multiple levels of screening and scanners sounds pretty intense. I hope this prevents any problems and allays the fears of travellers.

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    1. It felt much like getting through the Istanbul airport and our recent visit to Israel had security checkpoints everywhere. And that got real tedious, we've decided Israel is in our 'been there, done that' but no need to go back group of countries.

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  11. I am going to read all your articles on Egypt right now...I have a really good friend who lives in Cairo who is always asking me to visit but I keep putting it off. I hate flying and the recent awful events have really put me off even more. I do fly a lot but wasn't sure about Egyptian airport security however reading this the security does seem tight. I will have to see. I have been before - 30 odd years ago and the airport was awful. It is an amazing country and I really would like to go back.

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    1. Well the airport is beautiful and quite easy to navigate these days. Arriving you head to a bank branch on your way to baggage claim and they sell you a visa, you go thru customs, pick up the bag and you are done. Departing is slick as well, just a few security stations as I noted. I've done several posts on our stays there. It is a fabulous city, I am glad I set my fears aside and went the first time. I can hardly wait to return.

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  12. I always wonder about the whole shoe thing. It's surprising how rarely shoes get scanned outside of the states. Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. I agree there is such a subjective-almost approach to what is checked and how it is checked that I sometimes wonder why we do it at all. Don't recall many headlines saying a bad guy/gal was stopped at security, do you? Thanks for commenting Jim.

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  13. Hello, if it means we are safer in the air I am willing to take off my shoes and go thru the scans. This new airport looks very nice. Happy New Year and safe travels. Enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

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    1. I agree Eileen, if I am safer as a result, then rub me, scrub me, do what you have to do but make sure everyone gets the same treatment and the 'bad guys' get caught! Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. I must say I have never gone through security like that! I sincerely appreciate your truthfulness and 'warning' if anyone is thinking of flying out of Cairo.

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    1. We've had some interesting experiences in security but this might be the place with the tightest (perhaps Israel still tops them) we've been through.

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  15. It sounds like Cairo airport has pretty intense security. I find flying to be tiring at the best of times. I imagine with all the security checks, I'd be tired by the time I boarded the plane, but as you've said it has a potential health payoff.

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    1. I've come to brace myself for airport security knowing it will be some tedious affair but what really gets me is a place like Israel where even entering a shopping mall you go through security. We decided this fall, after our cruise ship stop there, that we don't need to return anytime soon.

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  16. I've never experienced security like that...it is indeed, a good thing to have it. Safe travels for you, dear heart.

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    1. I told another person above that after all the security and safety concerns abroad, we were booked to fly to Fort Lauderdale last Friday -- the day the shooter took aim and killed and injured folks there. Luckily, we'd cancelled our plans. . .

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  17. How sad that we have to be treated this way. We know the reason why, but it is still so sad. I'd love to return to Egypt but I won't be doing so anytime soon. Thanks for this airport update.

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    1. Well, when you look at last week's events in Fort Lauderdale, you can't help but realize that 'it' could happen anywhere, tight security, traveling close to home, just doesn't assure safety any more. Thanks for stopping by Carole.

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  18. Your intro was very intriguing, to say the least! I have never had such an intense patdown nor have I visited Egypt. Of course, we want to be safe so I suppose this is the price we must, unfortunately, pay. I'm glad you now have TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. I don't know what I did without it! I've have both for two years now and, at least for re-entering the U.S., it makes a world of difference.

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    1. So absolutely true - love TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. It does make re-entry a somewhat pleasant experience!

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  19. I am reading all your articles about Cairo and Egyp with great interest as we are very interested in visiting there, possibly later this year. Thanks for your very insightful comments!

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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