IAH redux

IAH is full of wonders.

Travel journal, April 2014

It’s five in the morning. Lightning splits the sky every few minutes, but there’s no thunder to accompany it. Never has dramatic weather been so unwelcome…lightning means flight delays, which means people being rerouted, which means no extra seats on planes…

Travel journal, 15 April 2015

Houston was my lucky star while travelling for a month nonstop, so when I was planning the handful of flights for two weeks away the next year I made a point of routing myself through IAH if there was an option. It seemed to be a less travelled hub than the many other ones for United, and I wanted a smooth trip this time. Rather than an adventure. 

Going through customs to get in was surprisingly easy; the agent and I chatted more about our glasses than what I was doing in the country. (This was balanced by the overzealous United employee in Frankfurt who seemed very concerned about why I was going to the US, despite my being the proud owner of an American passport.) Getting to the hotel was a little dramatic, but we all made it through the experience. After the way IAH bailed me out last year, I was ready to be forgiving. 

The security queue was a cornucopia of new experiences, however. 

Over a month of flying the previous year I never had my carryon searched. Not once. Houston, however, decided it needed to take a closer look at what was in my overstuffed bag. I was mostly unconcerned, though my expectations were low. All I really wanted from the experience was for them to get it closed again. Because that suitcase and I went three rounds trying to agree on whether the zip would close, and I didn’t think it would be very ladylike to repeat the experience in front of all the Houston passengers. 

My favourite new experience was the ID check. I’ve done this many times, it always goes smoothly. Not so in Houston. After being chastised for having it in a holder, I was told “This isn’t legal, you know,” pointing to my signature just above the ID page. 

I stared speechless. I’ve had that passport for six years, it’s been signed in green ink the entire time. I had another passport for ten years before that, also signed in green. I haven’t been to as many continents as I’d like, but this is hardly my first rodeo. Never once has the signature been commented on. Did I say any of that? Of course not. All I could manage was “Really?”

“Anything federal has to be blue or black,” she said, looking at me reproachfully. “I’m surprised if they’ll let you out of the country, or back in once you’re gone…” She held my passport while I resisted the urge to explain that not only had I been let out of the country, I lived in another country. 

After all, I have a spare passport, in case they don’t like this one.