“Our flight time includes a three hour wait”

I flew on Christmas and before I returned on Monday, a man decided to smuggle explosives in his underwear and tried to blow up a plane carrying 289 people bound for Detroit. Photos of his underwear were shown on the news.

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, said the system “worked” and the attacker was caught. Somewhere former FEMA chief Michael Brown shook his head and sighed.

The security at the airport for the return leg of my trip was “heightened” and I was advised to “allow for extra time” to pass through the security checkpoints. Thankfully I made it home. Others were not so lucky. This week there have been reports that the lines to go through the security screening at some major airports were so long and cumbersome that they actually stretched outside the terminal. A man quoted in a USA Today story said he showed up two hours before his flight and still missed it. His hopes of getting to his “final destination” died presumably in a line as he clutched his liquids, gels, shoes and belt and stared in disbelief at his watch. He could still be at the airport for all we know.

Like Tom Hanks in the movie “Terminal”, we are all stuck in the airport each time we travel and none of us particularly happy to be there.

The whole experience of flying makes me uncomfortable and puts me on edge. The inane questions, the lines, walking around in your socks… I can’t help but feel that I, simply as a representative of the flying public, am inconveniencing the airlines and the TSA operators by my very presence. I could do everyone a favor by just going home.

And now that I have seen the most recent development I am seriously considering becoming an Amtrak man. According to various news sources the Dutch will begin using full body scanners for all flights headed to the U.S and there are reports that U.S. airports will begin similar security procedures soon.

There are several troubling points in the story, and more than a few legal questions to consider.

In the second paragraph President Obama is quoted as saying that “all possible (safety) measures” will be used on flights to the U.S. What can be considered “possible?” I am convinced that if they concluded that shoving live ferrets down the pants of travelers was an “effective” security screen, we would all have to get used to it.

Privacy advocates point out that the full body scanners are a “virtual strip search” of travelers and could be considered child pornography for minors.

The debate will begin immediately as to how much privacy we can expect as passengers and whether it’s legal to have different security protocol in Amsterdam than in Detroit. It’s a continuation of the argument that began the morning of Sept. 11, 2001: How much did the world change?

I don’t know, but I don’t think this is the answer.


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