The World Droning On

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On December 20th of last year, over 100,000 peoples lives were put on hold when the United Kingdom’s second largest airport, Gatwick, was completely shut down. The widespread panic and delays were not caused by a terrorist attack, as many suspected, but were instead triggered by a drone hovering too close to the runway. Since the drone incident, Gatwick has now spent the equivalent of 6.5 million dollars on security to ensure nothing similar to the occurrence ever happens again. Unfortunately, as someone who flew in and out of Gatwick airport during this turbulent time I, along with hundreds of thousands of travelers, experienced Gatwick before the new security system was introduced.

When we arrived at the O’Hare airport to fly to Gatwick, we were informed that our plane had been delayed by two hours due to flights to Gatwick being rescheduled to make up for the ones missed on the 20th. After waiting in lines to get through check-in, bag drop, and security, we rotated between lying on the ground and lounging on the uncomfortable rubber seat rows at the gate. This went on for two hours before we could finally board the plane, where, of course, we waited another 45 minutes for take off. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be stuck sitting in the seats for hours on end just to be told that your flight had been canceled or majorly delayed. To make matters even worse, some people were unable to reschedule their flight until a much later date, and as a result spent the holidays alone in a foreign place, all because of one little metal flying device.

My trip to Gatwick was certainly not what a smooth journey, but I was in for an even bumpier ride on the return trip. Just as we had before, we checked the news and the airline status for news of delay, and even picked up some books to keep us occupied just in case we would have to wait again. When we arrived at the airport, the first thing we noticed were the heaps of security guards waiting standing outside the airport. After we reached baggage claim, an employee of the airport approached us and proceeded to ask us multiple question about where we had been, where we were staying, and any electronics we had brought with us. To someone observing this scene, it may not seem invasive, but to a traveler hoping to flow quickly through airport traffic, a delay like that was exceedingly taxing.  

Everyone is familiar with the saying, “The Sky’s the Limit”, and maybe for flying drones it should be.


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