Lost in translation | The West Australian

Airport security is one of the greatest challenges of travel today.

It’s invasive, slow and irritating.

A medical experiment found that stress levels of travellers at airports were higher than those of racing car drivers.

The study conducted by David Lewis, a leading British neuropsychologist from Mind Lab, an independent research consultancy, involved 10 researchers, acting as passengers with a variety of sensors to test stress levels.

Dr Lewis said that they found that passengers passing through Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and 3 can suffer higher stress levels than fighter pilots, riot police and Formula 1 drivers.

And that stress leads to mistakes as I was to find out.

My wife Christine — who is the Editorial Director of AirlineRatings.com — and I were going through Charles De Gaulle airport from Abu Dhabi to Toulouse to attend an Airbus two-day briefing.

We were going though security to board our domestic flight and the staff wanted to do an explosive test on my laptop.

At the same time, they wanted to re-examine my bag which was full of electronic stuff including several portable hard drives.

This required me to leave my precious laptop and go back through the body scanner as they wanted me to unpack my bag.

Having done that I went through the scanner which now decided it didn’t like me either and I had to lose the shoes and my belt and go through the process again.

All my travel possessions and some of my attire are now spread everywhere and we needed to get to the gate. I scooped it all up — I thought — and off to the gate.

Three hours later in the Toulouse hotel room I opened my carry-on bag to find my laptop missing.

Hell! Phone calls to the Charles de Gaulle airport went to message bank, calls to its media department went to message bank. Not even our hosts Airbus could raise any interest from either.

For the next two days I stressed about what I could do to find my laptop but nothing worked.

Fortunately, we were going back to Paris before heading to the Farnborough Air Show in the UK.

Once back in Paris, we took the train to Charles de Gaulle and wondered how on earth we were going to navigate the massive complex to find the laptop. I said the logical thing would be to start at the Terminal where we were processed.

We walked off the platform onto an escalator to the massive terminal complex bracing for hours of searching.

I glanced up and intense relief flowed over me.

The Objets rouvés/Lost Property sign beckoned us with an arrow to an office just 50m away.

Surely it can’t be that easy?

I quoted the lost property claim number that I had lodged and within seconds my laptop appeared.

“Do you have more proof it is yours, sir?”

“Certainly, if you turn it on there is a screen shot of my wife and me in front of a plane on a glacier,” I replied.

Within 5 minutes of arriving at Charles de Gaulle we were back on the platform heading back to Paris, mission accomplished with me hugging my laptop.


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