This evening I took a flight up to Ulaanbaatar for some meetings I needed to fit in whilst the Olympics were on. I went a little earlier than usual because I’d heard that it was taking longer than normal to get through security – and just as well because there were long queues at the check-in desks. The queues were caused by passengers having to open their check-in bags after they were put through the x-ray machines behind the check-in desks. Apparently they were not allowing anything with batteries or which looked ‘electrical’ in the check-in baggage. I was carrying two portable hard-drives that I was taking to Mongolia as gifts, and I was asked to remove those from my check-in baggage and hand-carry them. The security even asked me to do the same for my electric shaver. It was just as well that I had left some of my gear in Beijing, so I was able to find room to stuff them into my briefcase and camera bag.

As I walked away from the Mongolian Airlines check-in counter, I noticed five Nigerian guys checking in at the next counter where passengers were queuing for an Ethiopian Airlines flight (I assume they were Nigerians because their bags were all addressed to Lagos). They had about 15 baggage trolleys between them on which were piled about three times that many cardboard boxes.

I wondered firstly how much their excess baggage charges would come to, and secondly whether they had any electrical items in the boxes. If they did, I wondered whether they would be asked to hand carry their boxes onto their flight. Knowing Ethiopian Airlines, they probably wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.

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