I was anxious for the flight today, given the recent events. However if I was going to continue to think negatively I’d never leave the house. Like I mentioned before I love planes so much because in a way I fear them. Nowadays planes are basically computers and pilots are their technicians, which, come to think of it, is a little questionable. Can we really trust technology. But technology wasn’t the issue with Germanwings, the pilot was. To fly, is to have faith. Faith in a stranger.
For me it becomes easier to entrust my life on airplanes when I learn more about them and the airlines flying them. By having knowledge on the subject, it partially hands over the control to me and it means I don’t freak out or question the pre-flight cross-checks and turbulence so much.
My first ever flight outside of Europe departed from Dublin Airport. The main hub to Ireland’s capital is gorgeous and like its own village, its so big. Signs are in both Irish and English, so I almost felt like I was already on holiday, experiencing a new culture. It made me want to learn the language. I know it seems silly that I don’t already know it, at least to a basic extent, but as a child I went to protestant and Christian schools, so it was never on the curriculum. I identify myself as Northern Irish, simply because I don’t feel British, nor do I feel Irish. I think, in a way that is because of how I’ve been brought up, branched out from a family tree of being told ‘you’re British and you can’t learn Irish, nor can you go to a Catholic school.’ So in a way I’ve always been curious, yet, by only being minimally exploited to the Irish culture, I could never call myself Irish.
The way the sun cascaded against the window panes of the airport’s terminal two was addictive. The international terminal is so modern and so clean, it was hard not to enjoy this particular part of the journey.
At Dublin Airport, for flights bound for the USA, you go through US Preclearance, meaning you don’t have the hassle of coming off a long-haul flight and have to endure being questioned by odd-talking (American) custom officers.
What I expected from US Preclearance was something similar to the movie The Terminal where Tom Hanks, acting as this Eastern European man – who technically doesn’t belong to a country – was harshly questioned by American Officers and struggled to get into the USA because they (spoiler alert) secretly didn’t want him in the country, but to waste time in the terminal building. In reality boarding this flight was a long hurdle; our flight had told us the gate closed two hours before boarding, which was crazy but we kept to that timescale. At check in we received a US Customs form, basically asking us for an address and short information about our travels – one per household is required, so if you are family living together, you only need one form. With that filled in, my liquids concealed in a 100ml clear plastic bag and my over stuffed hand luggage, we went through security. “Shoes off” a man said. I looked down, thought, ‘but I am wearing plimsoll flats?’ and took them off. I put all my stuff on the little conveyor belt, walked on through and adjusted my bags and self ready for my flight.
At US Pre-Clearance it is a requirement to undergo security again. So off the shoes came and out came the liquids. It wasn’t busy and was a straight through process so not as much of a hassle as one would think. The process basically requires you to enter your flight details to a touchscreen computer, smile at the camera that makes you look far from selfie ready (#SoNotOnPoint), take some tag, stand back from these boxed tables and smile at the slightly scary officer until he tells you to come over. Answer all his questions about your travels (ie: where are you staying, what brings you to New York), let him look at your passport and take another (likely awful) photo of you. Confirm your checked bags are yours, scan your fingerprints,
feel slightly like a criminal and then you get this pretty thing called a Stamp!
And then, technically you are in America. So in short, this process was easier than I anticipated and was oddly a thrill that I’d happily do again!
Travelling to the destination is half the fun!