Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Airport Security is an Ass

Okay, I know I am supposed to be taking a break but I gotta have a go on this one. Watching and reading Kives on the Free Press website got me going.

I have always been suspicious of the front-line of airport security. Suspicious as to whether or not it's an "emperor's new clothes" type of thing. Layers of inconvenience and hassle to give the appearance that something is there that is really not.

I am traveling overseas and, for the first time, decided to go on a U.S. carrier. I have never done that before. It's part due to the fact that if something bad is going to happen from N.A. to Europe and back, chances are much better that it's going to happen on a U.S. carrier versus a Canadian one. The other factor is that Americans love a good show, be it a Broadway production, political debate, the recording of historical events - even security measures.

So with my tickets in hand, well you don't get tickets in hand anymore but you know what I mean, I now face my first pain-in-the-butt security measure: no carry on luggage allowed into the U.S.. This is, of course, because a guy who was on a watch list smuggled explosives aboard a flight to Detroit in his underwear. The multi-billion dollar upgraded U.S. air security system got caught with their pants down, (when it should have been the no-fly guy in that situation). The knee-jerk reaction: p
unish everyone who flies for a period of time until we, ummm..., learn our lesson, I suppose. Add another musical number to the show.

I am
going through the q and a list of the new rules and it's really a bit bizzarre.

I can't bring peice of 'carry-on luggage' but could bring a 'small purse'; the word purse to me implies that is intended for women only (so much for gener equality in the air). If it weren't that my final desitnation was overseas I might do a 'murse challenge' but I have connections to catch.

The items I can bring include the very obvious: medications etc. but then stretches on to include MP3 players, laptop computers, laptop carrying case, coats, books, magazines, sport equipment, food etc. A list that sounds oddly similar to what most people would carry onto an airplane in the 'olden days' (pre Dec 26th).

The assumption that makes this so strange to me is that if three passengers were sitting in a row, all with the same selection of the above carry-on items and: one had them in a piece of 'carry on luggage'; the other (the lucky woman of the group) in a purse; the third (being me) with the items stuffed into my jacket pockets, that somehow I must therefore be deemed the 'safest' passenger of the three ?!

I am not a 'soft on security' person. While not a Globe Trekker guide, I have traveled a fair bit to the U.S. and throughout Europe, including to places where terrorist events have taken place. I have had troops with machine guns look me in the eye to see if I would get nervous, have had very detailed body pat-downs and was once even pulled aside and my luggage and clothing gone through with a fine tooth comb. I never complained in those situations. Why ? In my 'non-security expert' mind, those seem to be things that could be a plus to making air travel safer. Physically check people out (as detailed as necessary), look at what they are bringing aboard in great detail and make sure there's nothing that can harm the flight, or people on it.

Put all this additional time, energy, money and extra staff used in the show into THOSE measures to make things safer and let me carry my freaking granola bar, headphones and reading material in a bag.

UPDATE: How bizarre - I noticed that women brought huge purses anyway, computer laptops doubled as briefcases and people brought camera bags way bigger than their camera to shove junk into. All made it through - so much for security concerns about carry on luggage.

I also noticed that Chicago's O'Hare has wayyy fewer security people on the front lines. Winnipeg's lines had six or seven people per line (x2 lines) squished sholder to shoulder all sort of repeating each others' jobs.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I don't plan to fly for a few months, and I'm hoping all this settles down by then. Airport security is increasingly revealed to be a huge joke. I'm up for following rules as much (actually more) than the next person, but I'm not good at packing light for a variety of reasons!

Thanks for the situational update!