The Joylessness of Air Travel

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.02.51 AMThe proliferation of needless regulations breeds cynicism and contempt for government, which is about the best thing you can say for it. Nowhere is this more obvious than at airport security, where I was recently instructed that I must forfeit a tin of pomade. At John Wayne airport, no less.

For the record, I didn’t let them take it: I simply applied it to my hair where, apparently, it’s perfectly permissible. That’s right: six ounces of hair gel in your carry-on bag and the assumption is that you could be a terrorist. But six ounces in your hair? “Well then! Welcome aboard!”

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve endured the humiliation of an airport pat-down. More than once I’ve been told by the TSA agent “When I reach sensitive parts of your body I’ll use the back of my hand.”

You talk about disappointment.

Fortunately, I know my rights and don’t hesitate to invoke the male equivalent to “Female assist”. When instructed that I must submit to a pat-down, I simply tell them I’m gay and therefore don’t feel comfortable being patted down by another man: it’s too arousing. Then I insist on being patted down by a woman, adding “Preferably a leggy blonde in equestrian boots.”

This risk-aversion-run-amok is as unseemly as it is un-American. And it doesn’t end once onboard the plane. Frequent flyers are familiar with the ubiquitous peanut bags handed out by flight attendants which read “Warning: these peanuts were processed in a facility that produces nuts.”

The FAA only recently deigned to allow flyers to use their electronic devices nearly up until take-off: more evidence that the federal government is always the last one in the room to get the joke. The official explanation for restricting their use onboard was typically risible: the navigation systems of commercial aircrafts could be adversely affected if too many passengers chose to read their Kindles during take-off.

How does that work exactly? You work hard, save your money and take your family on a Hawaiian vacation only to end up in Cleveland because your wife couldn’t stop playing Angry Birds during take-off?

The proliferation of regulations born of risk-aversion also creates a stifling, anti-social atmosphere. Simply maintaining a sense of humor has become increasingly difficult, as evidenced by the blank stare I received from the man settling into the seat behind me when I asked him if he would mind swapping seats with me so that his wife and I could sit together…

 

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I was about to write something about how air travel isn’t that bad, but then I realized that I haven’t flown in the US since January 2002.

    When people in the Great White North complain that the safety briefing is in both official languages, I should  tell ’em to be happy that’s the worst thing they have to complain about.

    That and the high price of airfare compared to US carriers…

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    David Deeble:Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.02.51 AM

    Apropos of nothing, but if you look up the Statue of Liberty in Google Streetview, her face is blurred out by their privacy software.

    • #2
  3. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Classic, Dave…Just classic! I needed a laugh today…

    • #3
  4. user_541971 Member
    user_541971
    @DavidDeeble

    Thanks for your comments, John: eloquent and consistent with my experience.  And for hangin’ in there with me!

    • #4
  5. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    David Deeble:This risk-aversion-run-amok is as unseemly as it is un-American. And it doesn’t end once onboard the plane. Frequent flyers are familiar with the ubiquitous peanut bags handed out by flight attendants which read “Warning: these peanuts were processed in a facility that produces nuts.”

    I realize this post was light-hearted but I still must take issue: we live in the most risk-averse society in the world – and we encourage that behavior everyday with our incessant law suits.

    Our coffee has to have a warning label that it might be hot, and my private school teacher wife has to get 3 different permission slips just to take her students to the museum around the corner.

    Airline travel isn’t un-American, it’s a perfect microcosm of our national psychosis – both in the private and public sectors.

    • #5
  6. user_541971 Member
    user_541971
    @DavidDeeble

    Thanks for your comments, Mendel. Please note that I did not say – would never say – that air travel is un-American but that “risk-aversion-run-amok” is un-American.

    Having said that, I’m not sure where we differ.

    • #6
  7. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    LOVE IT! I read it aloud to my family.

    • #7
  8. Cornelius Julius Sebastian Inactive
    Cornelius Julius Sebastian
    @CorneliusJuliusSebastian

    I’m digging the extended dance remix versions of Deeble on Rico!

    • #8
  9. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Cornelius Julius Sebastian:I’m digging the extended dance remix versions of Deeble on Rico!

    Yeah, “David Deeble’s Greatest Hits”; they’ve got a good beat, and they’re easy to dance to…

    • #9
  10. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    I flew this week. The TSA guy was doing his normal broadcast:

    • You must entirely REMOVE your laptop!
    • If you do not push your bags in, they cannot come out the other side!
    • There must not be ANYTHING in your pockets!

    etc.

    I remarked to the fellow behind me that I would feel a lot better if a SINGLE STATEMENT was actually TRUE.  After all, if you have a smart-check bag, the laptop can stay in.  And if you don’t push your bag in, the person behind you surely will. And, of course, if you have something in your pockets, it might earn a back o’the’hand patdown. It is hardly a federal crime to have something in your pockets.

    • #10
  11. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    It really isn’t all so bad. Just follow 2-3 simple rules, and there won’t be any issues.

    There are things to complain about, but this is probably not one of them. Even at busy airports when the lines are full, things move relatively quickly. 10-15 minute wait? It’s not really such a big deal. Usually it’s far less than 10 minutes even, for me at least.

    Next time something bad happens, God forbid, it’ll all be you who will be saying “why didn’t the government do enough to stop it!”.

    Case in point: ebola. Ohh…all the stories about “why don’t we do more to stop it!” etc. all appear at the time when something “bad” happens. But then we all revert to the “you’re invading my privacy” mode.

    PS: Air travel isn’t supposed to be “joyful”. We pick our flights on the bases of cost. We want cheap flights to get from A-B. Not luxurious fun flights. If you want that, you can pay for that.

    • #11
  12. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Thanks to an artificial knee my wife gets felt up every time she flies.  The routine goes something like this:

    Wife:  (before entering the scanner) I have an artificial knee.

    TSA:  Yes, ma’am. Step into the X-Ray 2000 Peek-a-Boo Scanner, please.

    She steps through the machine, having a day sucked off her life span. The TSA machinery beeps and flashes.

    TSA:  Ma’am, we’re gonna have to embarrass you in front of the entirety of the Nashville Airport by allowing a former women’s prison trustee put her hands all over you.

    Wife:  But I told you, it’s my artificial knee.  All you need to do is wand my knee.

    TSA: We know.  But where’s the fun in that?

    And folks wonder why we avoid flying whenever we can.

    • #12
  13. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    AIG: There are things to complain about, but this is probably not one of them.

    Time is valuable – if you had to wait 10-15 minutes at the gate before leaving the airplane there would be riots.

    Even at busy airports when the lines are full, things move relatively quickly. 10-15 minute wait? It’s not really such a big deal. Usually it’s far less than 10 minutes even, for me at least.

    I have been waiting in security lines at some airports for as much as an hour. At many airports, the TSA cannot staff the machines, so 8 machines are there, and only 1 is running.

    If security was run like a for-profit business, you’d never be more than number two or three in line.

    • #13
  14. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    If we could just keep the laptop in the bag we could increase efficiency by like a third.

    • #14
  15. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    iWc:

    AIG: There are things to complain about, but this is probably not one of them.

    Time is valuable – if you had to wait 10-15 minutes at the gate before leaving the airplane there would be riots.

    Even at busy airports when the lines are full, things move relatively quickly. 10-15 minute wait? It’s not really such a big deal. Usually it’s far less than 10 minutes even, for me at least.

    I have been waiting in security lines at some airports for as much as an hour. At many airports, the TSA cannot staff the machines, so 8 machines are there, and only 1 is running.

    If security was run like a for-profit business, you’d never be more than number two or three in line.

    I recently became a TSA Preferred Traveller – or whatever they call it.  No lines for me.  Granted, the GPS tracking chip they implanted in my brain gives me awful headaches in the middle of the night.  And I now get WSM radio on the fillings in my teeth.  But it’s totally worth not having to wait in the security lines.

    • #15
  16. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Songwriter: I recently became a TSA Preferred Traveller – or whatever they call it.  No lines for me.

    I have resisted being fingerprinted.

    And at many airports, TSA Pre is watered down so much that it gives little or no time benefit. Since, for example, my shoes have Titanium shanks, they are coming off no matter what.

    • #16
  17. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    AIG: It really isn’t all so bad. Just follow 2-3 simple rules, and there won’t be any issues. There are things to complain about, but this is probably not one of them. Even at busy airports when the lines are full, things move relatively quickly. 10-15 minute wait? It’s not really such a big deal. Usually it’s far less than 10 minutes even, for me at least. Next time something bad happens, God forbid, it’ll all be you who will be saying “why didn’t the government do enough to stop it!”. Case in point: ebola. Ohh…all the stories about “why don’t we do more to stop it!” etc. all appear at the time when something “bad” happens. But then we all revert to the “you’re invading my privacy” mode.

    Here’s what I’m noticing about the statists and the safety police in our country, they use the complaints from those who want the government to take care of them (and everyone) as justification for an increased role for themselves. When reasonable people complain, they use the arguments of the left and claim we use those arguments. I haven’t complained about the government NOT doing something in a very long time.

    AIG, what do you complain about, people not having their IDs at the ready when prompted?

    • #17
  18. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    I live in a very nice area with absolutely no problems other than some random DUI arrests, very few burglaries and no violence to speak of. Today I had to deal with a surly, officious security guard at the high school. That was after I had to show ID to a camera and be buzzed in to the building. This is a new procedure this year, and not a result of any incident. I was picking up my daughter. That answer seemed to satisfy the oaf. I could have told him anything and he’d be none the wiser. I don’t feel my daughter and her classmates are one iota safer because of this procedure or this guard. I’m paying taxes for his salary to treat me like a suspect.

    We are all suspects and we have to prove ourselves daily. Not freedom.

    • #18
  19. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    AIG: Next time something bad happens, God forbid, it’ll all be you who will be saying “why didn’t the government do enough to stop it!”.

    The TSA has been absolutely ineffective at stopping threats. Thus far, despite millions of wasted hours across America’s most productive citizen-base, the TSA has not caught a single terrorist.

    Not one.

    • #19
  20. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    Misthiocracy:I was about to write something about how air travel isn’t that bad, but then I realized that I haven’t flown in the US since January 2002.

    When people in the Great White North complain that the safety briefing is in both official languages, I should tell ‘em to be happy that’s the worst thing they have to complain about.

    That and the high price of airfare compared to US carriers…

    I mostly fly in the US but have noticed that when we travel abroad there is always a moment upon entering a foreign airport at which I suddenly relax, because the thought washes over me that this isn’t the United States and thus the airport experience won’t be the test of endurance I’ve come, by instinct, to expect upon entering an airport.

    The most notable example was a trip to China we took a couple of years ago where I was somewhat mortified to learn that Communist dictatorships are able to produce airport apparatchiks who are both more polite and more competent than those produced by the United States government.  Worse, many of them spoke English better as well.

    • #20
  21. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    iWc: If security was run like a for-profit business, you’d never be more than number two or three in line.

    Really?

    There’s probably longer wait times at a Cosco check out line that at 70% of check-in lines at airports.

    Franco: AIG, what do you complain about, people not having their IDs at the ready when prompted?

    Is it so hard to have your ID ready?

    Franco: I’m paying taxes for his salary to treat me like a suspect. We are all suspects and we have to prove ourselves daily. Not freedom.

    Ahh! So when the Leftists say “why do we need Voter IDs to vote?” the Right says “cause there’s some people that cheat”.

    So here you are, making the Left’s argument, perfectly for them. No Voter ID Laws then…since…it treats everyone as a suspect.

    See what I did there? :)

    iWc: The TSA has been absolutely ineffective at stopping threats. Thus far, despite millions of wasted hours across America’s most productive citizen-base, the TSA has not caught a single terrorist

    Catching terrorists isn’t the only way to stop terrorism. Deterring terrorists from showing up, also works ;)

    It’s like when the Left says “guns kill”, and the Right responds by saying “you’re forgetting about all the lives saved by guns which prevented crimes from happening.”

    So here you are making the Left’s argument for them, perfectly. Stuff that was prevented from happening, doesn’t really matter?

    See what I did there?

    • #21
  22. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    All I ask for is logical consistency.

    All I see is contradiction after contradiction.

    I know the Left doesn’t need any logic, since their arguments are based on emotions. But we on the “right” sometimes pretend to be logical. Well, maybe not the “libertarians”, it seems.

    • #22
  23. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    AIG:It really isn’t all so bad. Just follow 2-3 simple rules, and there won’t be any issues.

    There are things to complain about, but this is probably not one of them. Even at busy airports when the lines are full, things move relatively quickly. 10-15 minute wait? It’s not really such a big deal. Usually it’s far less than 10 minutes even, for me at least.

    Next time something bad happens, God forbid, it’ll all be you who will be saying “why didn’t the government do enough to stop it!”.

    Case in point: ebola. Ohh…all the stories about “why don’t we do more to stop it!” etc. all appear at the time when something “bad” happens. But then we all revert to the “you’re invading my privacy” mode.

    PS: Air travel isn’t supposed to be “joyful”. We pick our flights on the bases of cost. We want cheap flights to get from A-B. Not luxurious fun flights. If you want that, you can pay for that.

    No, you can’t actually.  At least not without buying your own plane.

    • #23
  24. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    iWc:

    Songwriter: I recently became a TSA Preferred Traveller – or whatever they call it. No lines for me.

    I have resisted being fingerprinted.

    And at many airports, TSA Pre is watered down so much that it gives little or no time benefit. Since, for example, my shoes have Titanium shanks, they are coming off no matter what.

    I’m not sure that troubles me.  Why do your shoes have titanium shanks?  :)

    (And if this turns out to be a rude question, apologies in advance.)

    • #24
  25. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    iWc:

    AIG: Next time something bad happens, God forbid, it’ll all be you who will be saying “why didn’t the government do enough to stop it!”.

    The TSA has been absolutely ineffective at stopping threats. Thus far, despite millions of wasted hours across America’s most productive citizen-base, the TSA has not caught a single terrorist.

    Not one.

    Which  proves that terrorists are in such total fear of the TSA that they would never dare enter a US airport.  Ok, sarc off.

    Some years ago (Dec. 23, 2004 as I recall) my wife and I were returning for a Christmas visit to Houston from the Middle East, via Amsterdam. Boarding the same flight transfer from Detroit were a significant number of American soldiers on home leave from Iraq. Many of these kids (and believe me they looked like infants to me) were heading for small towns town in Texas where air service was far less frequent, and they were all concerned about missing their connections and Christmas with family. So, my wife, being an outspoken soul politely asked the TSA agents if they could move the soldiers to the front of the line ahead of us and by the way, ahead of a group of men and women in traditional Muslim garb.

    Big mistake.

    1) The soldiers did not get moved up, and many missed their flight.

    2) We got sent for enhanced inspection and missed our flight.

    Petulant b@stards.

    To their great credit, Northwest Airlines scrambled to find alternate carriers and routes. We got back late but before Christmas Eve, and I fervently hope that they all made it on time.

    • #25
  26. user_1152 Member
    user_1152
    @DonTillman

    The current airport security situation is a remarkable political opportunity.  As I posted some time ago, a presidential candidate can easily win on a platform of abolishing the TSA.

    • #26
  27. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Cato Rand: I’m not sure that troubles me.  Why do your shoes have titanium shanks?  :)

    They are very nice boots. And they are made well. Which means, in the case of that bootmaker, titanium shanks.

    • #27
  28. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    AIG, do you REALLY think terrorists are deterred by the TSA, when any idiot can see that bringing a gun or other weapon on board an airplane is not very hard to pull off?

    The reason terrorists are deterred is because they know passengers and crew, having learned the lessons of the past, will fight any hijacking attempt. And some of the crew ARE armed.

    • #28
  29. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    iWc: AIG, do you REALLY think terrorists are deterred by the TSA, when any idiot can see that bringing a gun or other weapon on board an airplane is not very hard to pull off?

    I must not be one of these idiots then, since I don’t think bringing a gun or weapon on board a plane is so easy.

    Don Tillman: The current airport security situation is a remarkable political opportunity.  As I posted some time ago, a presidential candidate can easily win on a platform of abolishing the TSA.

    Given the absurdities that people run on these days, yes absolutely, one could win on with platform.

    Heck, one could even win on a platform promising free community college. But that doesn’t make it any less absurd of a platform.

    • #29
  30. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    No where in the constitution does the government have the right to demand a warrantless search of me, nor the restriction from a public space (an airport) unless I submit to such. There IS, however, the 2nd Amendment, which guarrantees my right to keep and bear arms, to be used for the protection of me and mine. I can walk down the street where jihadis could easily detonate a truck bomb, but I can’t board an aircraft and be able to defend myself should a threat arise. ?And who IS there to defend me. ?Who is responsible for my safety. No one it would seem.

    The government has confiscated many, many TONS of our posessions, merely because of some perceived “threat” by some fevered government employee. So I had an empty magazine confiscated because … it was a “gun”. No one was safer, and I was out $38. No court, no due process – just gone.

    Over 800 TSA employees have been arrested for theft of passenger possessions. ZERO terrorists have ever – EVER – been found/caught/thwarted. Their moment to shine came in 2010, when the Times Square bomber, Faisel Shahzad, had his picture distributed to all the TSA. Yet he made it through the “screening” and it was ONLY because the NYPD did THEIR job and found him, actually stopping the UAE aircraft he was on, boarding it, and arresting him.

    I fly 4-8 segments per month and have been for the last 8+ years. Nothing – NOTHING – has changed in the TSA, other than the introduction of an x-ray machine which I can’t go through, and would refuse to even if I could. One would think in this time there would be improvements. We would be less encombered. Somewhere my rightswould be reaffirmed. I do not expect the government to simply abuse me of my rights. I expect them to find a solution within the law – not just act lawlessly.

    • #30

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