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That One Time I Was Chased by Airport Security…


I unwittingly and literally crossed a line, and then was chased by airport security agent while staying the night at Dallas International (DFW) between flights during an overnight layover.

Dallas Ft Worth DFW Airport Texas
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Terminal D. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user Squeamish.

So there I was, at a layover in Dallas. This wasn’t a typical layover, but rather one where I arrived around 10pm and my next flight, which would take me into Colombia, was the following morning at about 7am.

I opted to just spend the night within the airport, which was my prerogative, and I had no head to chase down leads to go to a nearby airport hotel just to return in a few hours. I walked about pulling my wheeled, carry-on luggage behind me, looking for a comfortable row of benches on which to lay across to catch some sleep. I found one that suited me, and made myself at home.

Well, as soon as I lay down, that priority was satisfied in my mind and it afforded a slew of other thoughts to enter my mind, rendering me wide awake and unable to fall asleep. Try as I might, rest wouldn’t come to me. Finally, I sat up about a half-hour later, deciding to go see if I could have a cigarette.

Well this Dallas airport, like most others, closes at night; also, like most other airports in the United States, smoking facilities didn’t exist within Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). Knowing this, I nevertheless went to one of the terminal exits to see if I’d be lucky somehow. Since the airport closes at night, the doors are set to a one-way mode; that is, you can exit from the inside, but it would not open from the outside to allow you back in, until the morning when the airport was once again fully operational and open for business.

As I came to a door, I saw through the glass door panels that there was an airport security agent stationed several yards outside the door. He was reading some book, relaxed at a podium. Stepping up to the glass door triggered the motion sensor to open the doors, though I knew that it was a one-way deal. So, I stayed right along the sliding door’s track, neither in nor out, as I spoke up to the agent in front of me.

“Hey, man, mind if I join you out here for a quick smoke?” I asked the man politely. He looked at me, then held out his hand and started beckoning me with his fingers. I sensed that the answer was no, but didn’t understand why he was summoning me forward. I stayed put so that the door wouldn’t lock me out.

“You crossed the line already. Step on out.” The security guy continued with the hand gesture.

“I haven’t crossed any line. I’m still in the airport!” I told him, as the realization dawned on me that he was saying that I lost my airport overnight privileges. I didn’t want to stay the night outside. I looked down at my shoes, and started thinking how absurd this was.

“Your feet went past the line. Now you have to come out.”

“I’m not coming out, because I didn’t cross any line.” I replied, more adamantly.

With that, the guy slowly rose and started stepping towards me. Reflexively, I took a step back, as he continued advancing toward me.

“You’ve gotta come out,” he repeated. “You already crossed the line.”

He neared the door, and I continued stepping back. All of a sudden, I went past the point that triggered the motion sensor, and the door quietly slid shut. I stopped moving, and the guy went up to the door, glaring at me now. It then dawned on me that somehow, he didn’t have the authority or privilege of letting himself in, either. He started knocking on the glass door, raising his voice as he called for me to come out, though the door made his voice a mere mumble.

Now I really didn’t want to oblige him, so I backed off a bit more, then turned around and walked away. The banging on the door rose in intensity but the sound fell off as I left the area. I headed back to my sleep area, and was happily able to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the seat.

Make sure your layover is perfectly enjoyable by reading our best tips for layovers guide.

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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