Airport Guilt Syndrome - AGS - we all have it...


“Good morning, why are you going to Sri Lanka?”, the lady at the check-in counter asked with a demanding tone hidden by her friendly company-policy-smile.

“For vacation”, I answered. 

“Are you travelling alone?”, she fired another question.

“Yes”, I said as my palms turned into a liquid mess.

“That’s too bad, you should travel with a friend”, came the response and as she watched my reaction, she boomeranged back with:  “I see that you are only going for a short time”, still smiling.

I mumbled something back with a quivering lip about solo travel and that three weeks are not exactly just a long weekend and even though I would love to stay longer, responsibilities are stamped, dated and blah blah.

Does it look like I am hiding something?

I could feel my temples were having a PMS moment and a few seconds later my forehead joined in on the party.

Hot flushes? Really? I’m just a bit over three decades old. What’s next, a cane, false teeth and grey hair?

Oh no wait, I’m pretty grey already.

But seriously, does it look like I am hiding something? I’ve watched too many episodes of Locked up Abroad before; I’ve hear d the questions, I know the suspicions, the look and the tilt of the head as they watch your body language like a hawk.

There is nothing illegal in my bag. No, I am not carrying something for someone else and there is definitely not a cocaine balloon up my bum.

I wanted to ask her if I look guilty, but that would’ve probably just made me look even guiltier, so I smiled, took my ticket and off I went to the security check where a whole other level of airport guilt syndrome kicked in.

Am I being watched? What do I look like? Oh scheit, I can’t remember what’s in my hand luggage. It is really hot in this line, people are breathing on me, and I am sure someone just farted; will I draw attention to myself if I use my passport as a fan?

Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of Border Security: Australia’s Front Line as well, but seriously, what is it about airports, the officials and everything in the aviation milieu that makes me feel so guilty? There is not a big difference between me and someone smuggling narcotics or ninja stars; the eyes say it all, the pre-PMS party is rocking, I bite the inside of my mouth and pace up and down while standing still like someone’s whose cocaine balloon just leaked a high of note. 

Every single time.

Every single country.

Except for domestic flights in South Africa, I’m almost certain that on a flight earlier this year the guy behind me got the go-ahead to fly with a lighter that also doubles as a screwdriver. Or maybe it was a cork screw? Can’t remember, but I do know it was same flight where I forgot to take a multi-tool out of my hand luggage – a multifunctional MacGuvyer-tool; knife, tongs, file, cork screw and a screwdriver. I got told that I’m not allowed to take a knife in my hand luggage and the more I tried to convince her that I know that and that I forgot to take the multi-tool out of my bag, the more I heard that I can’t take it.

A multi-tool in my bag; I can see how that will raise eyebrows but I went camping.

Thinking about everything now I remember a few other instances where the Airport Guilt Syndrome kicked in as well.

My bag got once swabbed in Bali to see if there were any traces of drugs and/or explosives.  

Thank you Airport Guilt Syndrome.

And On a flight from Malaysia to somewhere I forgot about a scissor in my toiletries bag and after my, “oops”, I got stared down and then patted down.

And of course the pre-PMS hot flushes had their  little gathering all over my face.

Okay fine.

Maybe it does it look like I am hiding something....

Anje Rautenbach is the writer behind the blog Going Somewhere Slowly, find her Facebook,Twitter  or on Instagram!


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