Chinese airport security vs US airport ‘security theater’

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The Rapid Traveler is busy with family this Saturday before a week of business in Canada, but his esteemed professor, Victor Mair from the University of Pennsylvania, a towering expert in fields such as Chinese linguistics, Chinese literature, archaeology and other disciplines, is hot off his stop in Shanghai enjoying the elegant grounds of the Radission Plaza Xing Guo and erudite Shanghai alternatives, and contributes this comparison of airport security:

Chinese airport security:
1. X-ray carry on baggage
2. computer separate
3. walk through metal detector
4. use wands to check pockets, legs, etc.
5. shoes stay on (!!), but the passenger stands up on a low platform that X-rays the soles of their feet
TOTAL:  about one minute from the time you put your bags on the conveyor belt

Chicago O’Hare security:
1. X-ray carry on baggage
2. computer separate and out of case
3. walk through metal detector
4. **everything** out of pockets
5. belt off
6. shoes off
7. full-body X-ray; hands above head — must be quite a dose; takes about 5 seconds at least
8. pat down by hand
TOTAL:  about five-seven minutes from the time you put your bags on the conveyor belt until you get everything back together

Beijing domestic security gate

Efficient China airport security, photo by taiyofj

Spot on! Readers can be further amused and horrified at The Travel Insider’s ongoing series, “Scary, Silly and Stupid Security Stories.”

For those with an academic curiosity in China, check out Professor Mair’s journal, Sino-Platonic Papers,, and the recent Secrets of the Silk Road exhibition (NYT review). English speakers in the market for a Chinese dictionary should only consider the ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary (Amazon).

Pushing in Line

Needed to cope with the crowds, photo by rduta

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