Mail and Fly is a service that sends you your items that have been confiscated by airport security.
Last August, I watched as my knapsack glided down the conveyor belt at Heathrow Airport and suddenly veered into another lane. It stopped behind a few others that were being hand checked by a security agent.
What did I have in my bag that caused it to need further inspection?
I searched my brain trying to remember what I’d stuffed into my bag. Nothing I could think of caused me to be concerned.
May I search your bag? she asked as she got to my bag.
You may, I replied.
I was impressed that she even asked but did I really have a choice? Not if I wanted to fly that day.
She pulled out my small cosmetic bag, took out my liquid lipstick, mascara, eye drops and a small tube (30 ml) of hand cream and put them into a clear plastic bag. Even though there was room to spare, she still weighed them.
I can’t tell you how many international airports I’ve traveled through with roughly the same items (which are as essential as food for some of us women) and they never raised an eyebrow – sculpted or not.
She continued rifling through my bag and when she took out two bottles of jam and said ‘we have to take these,’ I realized why my bag was flagged.
It’s jam, I said. Like surely, that can’t be prohibited.
No liquids, aerosols or gels, she replied dryly.
But it’s jam, I protested. It’s not exactly a liquid, neither is it an aerosol or gel. I was baffled and steaming.
I had bought the jams at the Jane Austen Center in Bath. Mindful of weight and airport security, I had selected the smallest size – about 3 ounces. The bottle, with the Jane Austen Centre label and its little fabric cover was charming. I was looking forward to spreading some on crackers and enjoying it with a soothing pot of tea when I returned to New York. Now they were being confiscated.
According to the UK Government website, liquid and semi-liquid foods such as soups, jams, honey and syrups are not allowed in hand luggage.
The question I’d love an answer to is, how can anyone use jam to take down a plane?
She must have seen my disappointment.
If you really want them, she said, you can have them sent to you.
I perked up. Really?
We can send them to you via Mail and Fly.
I’d never heard of Mail and Fly, which operates only in the UK, US and Sweden at the moment. She explained that it is a service that sends you your items that have been confiscated by airport security.
What a fantastic idea, I thought.
She walked away and returned a few minutes later with a large plastic bag into which she put my jam, sealed it and gave me its detachable flap that had a number and barcode.
Enter this number at the website and follow the instructions to get your jam mailed to you.
I logged into the site a few days after I returned to New York, mostly curious to see what it would cost to have my jams, which I paid about $5 each for, shipped.
Except for a little glitch with entering the item number (their instruction said to include the airport code but I discovered that it wasn’t necessary), the site was easy to navigate.
However, instead of the $30 or so I was willing to pay, my total was now a whopping £80.94! Back in August, it would have been $124.88.
Had this been a treasured item, sure, I’d grit my teeth and spend the money. But jam, even Jane Austen jam, couldn’t pry that money from my hands.
Mail and Fly keeps your item for up to 42 days. On October 7th, I received a follow-up email from Mail and Fly that the status of my item had changed. I logged in to find out that my jams were discarded. I wonder if it was or if it ended up in a store that sells items that have been confiscated by airport security.