We're entering the busy summer air-travel season, which means the airports will be swarming with millions of vacation travelers, all of them ahead of you in the security line, many of them with the intelligence of an avocado.
No, that's unfair to avocados. I say this because of the passenger behavior I often observe at my local airport, the Miami International Permanent Construction Zone and Narcotics Bazaar. Every security checkpoint there is festooned with signs informing you, in several languages, that you must produce two things: (1) your boarding pass; and (2) a photo ID. Also, there are people announcing in loud voices, "Please have your boarding pass and photo ID ready!" Also, as you near the checkpoint, you can see that all the passengers in front of you are being required to produce a boarding pass and a photo ID.
If there were an avocado in the line -- even a non-gifted avocado -- at some point it would grasp that it needed to produce a boarding pass and ID (which would say "Avocado"). But many human air travelers cannot manage this feat. Dozens of times, I have stood behind people who are taken totally by surprise. A boarding pass! And an ID! Of all the things to need, here at the airport! And so they start rooting through their belongings, while those of us in the line roll our eyes, and the avocado rolls its pit.
To help prevent unnecessary airport delays and stranglings this summer, I've prepared the following Beginner's Guide to Traveling by Air:
When to arrive at the airport: You should be at the airport already.
How much luggage you can carry on: You can carry on one small bag and one medium bag, for a total of two bags. You may not carry on three bags by insisting to airline personnel -- as I have seen many travelers do -- that one of your bags is not really a bag, as if it is some kind of magical invisible fairy bag that the airline personnel cannot see. You also may not carry on a suitcase the size of a sleeper sofa apparently containing the entire wardrobe of the Broadway production of "The Producers." The fact that your suitcase has wheels does not automatically mean that you may carry it onto the airplane. A piano also has wheels, but you wouldn't try to take a piano onto a plane, would you? No, wait, some of you would.
Prohibited objects: You may not take knives, guns, spears, spear guns, flamethrowers, catapults, missiles, armored personnel carriers, GI Joe dolls, sharp objects or cheeses, scary animals such as squid, pointy Madonna-style brassieres, or anything else that could be used to inflict harm, such as a DVD of the movie "Gigli." If you know karate or kung fu, you may take your hands on board, but you must keep them clasped tightly under your armpits throughout the flight. You may carry nail clippers, provided that you padlock them shut and give the key to the pilot upon boarding.
How to go through the security checkpoint: Have your boarding pass and photo ID ready. Remove all your possessions from your pockets, and put them in a plastic tray. Have your boarding pass and photo ID ready. Remove your belt, shoes, pacemakers and any large dental fillings, and put them in another plastic tray. Have your boarding pass and photo ID ready.
Remove your laptop computer, and put this in another plastic tray. For God's sake, have your boarding pass and photo ID ready. Put everything -- trays, bags, children under 2 -- on the moving belt, then stand in a non-terroristic manner until the security person signals to you, at which time, while holding your boarding pass and photo ID up non-threateningly, you should shuffle meekly forward until your pants fall to the floor.
Joking around with the security personnel: Airport security personnel are a wacky and fun-loving group who are bored to death from spending eight hours a day reminding morons to have their boarding pass and photo IDs ready. There is nothing they enjoy more than a good joke or prank, such as the one where you give the victim a can that says "Peanut Brittle," and, when he opens it, giant spring-loaded worms come shooting out. Ha-ha! That always sets off a round of hearty knee-slapping at the checkpoint.
Yes, if you just use your common sense this vacation season, instead of wasting your summer waiting in long hectic lines at the airport, you can spend your time relaxing in the quiet privacy of your federal detention cell. Which is just as well, because your flight was canceled.