I'm in the airport here in Albuquerque on my way to California for a week of work with the Foldera team capped off by the TechCrunch party on Friday up in the valley. Everything is pretty much normal for an early morning flight out of the Sunport - the lines at security are moving quickly, the WiFi is free, and the electrical outlets are abundant. I love our airport.
But I'm sitting at the gate next to one of the little gift kiosks that are scattered around the terminal and I see the signs of the recent security regulations all around me. A very friendly TSA employee just rummaged through my messenger bag and is working her way around the gate looking for liquids and gels. Regular announcements about unattended baggage have been joined by repeated encouragements to finish my cup of coffee before getting in line to board. All expected and not terribly inconvenient.
But a sign at the little gift kiosk tells a different story. On every shelf that displays the requisite bottles of chile and salsa that are one of the most common gifts we New Mexicans bring to those we visit, a red lettered sign informs me that while I may still purchase a bottle of green chile tomatillo salsa or Coyote Cafe red chile marinade, I must check it with my baggage. Which of course I did… before I went through the security screening process. Which means that my checked luggage has already entered the netherworld of baggage handling and is completely inaccessible until I arrive in Orange County.
Strange days indeed (as Jim Morrison used to say).
I feel for these small business folks. The new restrictions have to be putting a serious crimp in their business strategies - at least those who rely on a large percentage of their sales coming from liquid or gel-like substances. Although the Black Mesa coffee stand (no Starbucks in our airport) is doing a bumper business, the lady at the newstand told me that no one is buying bottled water which is their usual best seller (and on which there are amazing profit margins). And the chile lady seems resigned to the fact that her merchandising strategy may need to be revised if these restrictions stay in effect.