As I said yesterday, I usually discourage the Panama family from coming to the airport. The lines at Tocumen — for anything — are long. Efficiency and customer service are not a high priority. Passengers have to go through two identical full security screens, and there’s no TSA pre which allows eligible flyers to keep shoes on, computers in bags, etc. Everything has to come off or out — twice. You go through the metal detectors at Panamanian security to get into the screened passenger area just like at all airports, then an identical process run by each airline at the gate — at least on flights headed to the U.S. Really, it takes forever. Woe to the person who’s gone through that second screening and is inside a secure marked off area at the gate who has to use the rest room.
This time I brought a beautifully painted parrot for Archie, and although the creature is made of wood, inexplicably there is an inside metal core. I found this out when my belongings kept triggering a metal object and everything had to come out of my bag until we found it. Since I’d stuffed half again the amount of belongings I came with into the bag — I always forget to account for the gifts the Panamanian family bring upon departure — the unpacking and running through the metal detector and packing again was not fun.
Given the arduous process, when Sally and I hit the door to enter the airport we rush for the security line. No time for good-byes there.
My breakfast crew had different ideas. When Sally and I went upstairs at the airport hotel to finalize our packing and get our bags and check out, the lot of them hopped on the hotel airport shuttle. They were lucky. That shuttle run was empty. When Sally and I caught the little bus a half hour later, it was full and only passengers would have been allowed.
Here they are — minus Manuel who had to go to work — in a pic they showed me later. And here’s the parrot, who arrived safely in my bag and is now in Archie’s room. 🙂