Security Through A First-Time Traveler's Eyes

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With his long oilskin coat and weather beaten wide-brimmed hat, he didn't look like the average sleep-deprived business type or nervously excited tourist. If I had to guess, I'd say he was a ranch hand, maybe a foreman on one of the massive cattle outfits that still dot western North America. As such, a horse, ATV and four-wheel-drive pickup would be his preferred methods of conveyance. But something had obviously come up that required his immediate presence in the big city and he was, like the rest of us, being herded into ever more restrictive spaces as we joined the airborne masses.

As he strode up to the gatekeeper of the security area, he took a long pull from a well-worn stainless steel travel mug. "You can't take that inside with you," the uniformed security guy informed him, pleasantly but firmly. "It's just coffee," protested our early-morning traveler as eyes rolled in unison in the mercifully short line behind him. "You can't take liquids through security," said the guard, a little more firmly this time, obviously unused to pushback from any among the passive shuffle of passengers he dutifully checks for boarding passes each day.

Our miscreant shrugged in kind of bemused disbelief. There was no belligerence, just incredulity. He took another pull and sauntered with no hint of embarrassment or recalcitrance to the nearest trash can, dumped the contents of the cup, and resumed his place in line, which, incidentally, was right in front of me. Now visibly liquidless and with a valid boarding pass, his initial screening was complete and he was sent to the next phase of this mindless exercise that many of us now complete without so much as a passing thought.

It became clear that my fellow traveler had never been through this when he reached the stainless steel table full of white plastic bins, turned to me and said: "Ok, so now what?"

I had plenty of time before my flight and offered to let the two guys behind me go ahead while I conducted a course in Travel Security 101 to our mountain man. Relief flashed in their eyes and they pushed their bins toward the rollers.

"Ok, take off your coat, your belt and your boots and put them in a bin. Do you have a laptop?" Well, his eyes widened a bit, further creasing is weathered face but he said that no, he didn't have a computer and filled the bin as directed.

"Do you have any toothpaste or deodorant or anything like that?" I enquired. I thought I caught a flash of irritation there and it quickly became obvious that our lesson was over. "I'm coming back tonight. I don't need any of that," he said before following the lead of the guy in front of him and pushing toward the X-ray machine.

If I'm correct and this was his first time as a modern air traveler, then you can understand his demeanor. In about 30 seconds he'd been forced to dump out a perfectly good cup of coffee, the quality of which he'd demonstrated by drinking it, and told by a complete stranger to partially undress. He was then queried about his personal hygiene requirements. I got the impression I was lucky to escape with the final baleful look he gave me.

"Have it your way," I thought to myself as we headed for third step of the security dance. The security lady who pushes your stuff into the X-ray machine (I wonder what the official name for that job is) repeated my liquids question and a few others and motioned him toward the metal detector. Well, of course it lit up like a Christmas tree and he was sent back through to empty his pockets. As you might expect, there was a good quality Leatherman on the key ring in his pocket.

"You can't take that through," the X-ray pusher lady said. "It's just a utility knife," he replied with a tone that suggested that if he intended to do someone some damage it would not be his instrument of choice. But he was in control of himself and gruffly but politely asked what his options were. When told he would either have to surrender the $100 tool or go back outside to put it in his vehicle he offered another suggestion. "Can't you just hang onto it for me for awhile? I'll pick it up tonight," he said to head shakes and eye rolling all around.

But wait a minute. Aren't tiny courtesies like this freely offered just about anywhere else in society?

"Well, what about the airline? Can they keep it for me?" There was actually a smattering of laughter at that suggestion.

This was no cup of coffee, however, and he wasn't about to part with a perfectly good Leatherman for the sake of some mindless rules. "I guess I'll take it back to the truck," he shrugged and began getting dressed. Being the ever helpful (if sometimes clueless) type that I am, I asked him when his flight left and it turned out to be the same flight I was boarding. It left in about 40 minutes from that point.

"You don't have time," I said. "We're boarding in 10 minutes." He'd had enough of me by then and turned to the pusher lady and said: "Tell the airline I had to go out to my truck and I'll be back in a few minutes." More laughter and he was back through the growing line and out the door.

I continued to the gate and had time to review a couple of files on my computer before the pre-board and general boarding calls were made. We all seem to get to the airport in plenty of time to wait a half hour before actually getting on the plane but as I've discovered the hard way it can be time well spent if things go wrong.

Anyhow, I'm never in any rush to stand in the long line that forms at the gate counter so I kept working until it was about two-thirds of the way through and started shutting down my computer. There was no sign of the Marlboro Man until I put on my jacket and moved toward the now-almost-non-existent line. He walked casually to the gate and stepped in front of me in line just as the attendant was getting ready to make the final call. Sometimes I can't help myself and I offered one last piece of advice. "You'll need your driver's license." I said. He dug for it and had it in hand just in time for the fake-smiling agent to take it.

"Quite the process, isn't it," I said as we headed for the jetway.

"They sure make it a lot harder than it needs to be," he replied. "By the way," he said, looking down the long hallway toward the aircraft entrance. "I don't suppose there's any place to have a cigarette down there."

We've all been behind the clueless dimwits who delay the security lines with their shampoo bottles and nail scissors but this wasn't like that. After decades of blindly accepting an increasingly intrusive and blatantly silly security regime at airports, I got to see the process through the eyes of someone who could see it for what it is. He no doubt regaled his buddies back on the range with numerous examples of why they're better off up there.

As we head into the big travel season, I have to wonder if he's not right about that.

Comments (54)

Brilliant view, a very good summary of how dumb airline travel has become.

Posted by: Adam Hunt | December 5, 2011 5:21 AM    Report this comment

Helen Keller said:
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole don’t experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

Posted by: JEAN D LEULLIER | December 5, 2011 6:41 AM    Report this comment

While I wholeheartedly agree with you, could you suggest viable improvements to the system ?

The logical one is profiling, but it is (thought to be) politically impossible. Also, given the number of travellers worldwide, how could sufficient profilers be trained ?
Given the current system, discretion is not possible because, again, of the number of people involved on both sides, but particularly among security staff - one could never be sure of discretion was always intelligent or indeed not malign.

It's not just in the US. I had a small glass jar of preserved artichokes taken at Bologna airport because there was some clear liquid in it, even if the majority contents were clearly solid, vegetable, and visible....

I should like to hear your suggestions for improvements to the system (courtesy being a given !).

Posted by: Unknown | December 5, 2011 6:44 AM    Report this comment

The suggestion I have is to not go through it. Take GA to where you're going. Like anything else, it's more expensive, but if enough folks do it, one of two things will happen:
1. GA costs will decrease with increased use
2. TSA will try to impede on the GA community. The thing with the second is that with 250,000 pilots (supposedly), the push back might be a heck of a lot bigger than when they forced the Draconian rules on the airlines (keep in mind, I doubt Southwest really wants TSA as the first impression to their company. Think about it).
The fact that there are precious few freedoms left in this country, at some point, we either turn into a dictatorship, or someone pushes back. Why not pilots? :)
Have a safe and enjoyable flight!

Posted by: Eric Tallberg | December 5, 2011 6:52 AM    Report this comment

I'm with Eric. If you don't like the security theatre than "just say no" and vote with your feet. Fly GA, drive, take the train of bus, do teleconferences or web conferences, vacation near home. It will take some sacrifices, but we can make the system change by simply refusing to put up with the unacceptable instead of acting like cattle.

Posted by: Adam Hunt | December 5, 2011 7:12 AM    Report this comment

I refuse to fly commercial unless it's an international flight. I'll fly my RV or drive. I's an 18 to 21 hour drive or a 5 to 6 hour flight for most of my trips. I pity those who have to use the airlines. The TSA is 90% pure theater, mostly BS. Almost anyone who wishes can bring down an airliner. The present security system is only effective against idiots.

Posted by: Sid Love | December 5, 2011 7:15 AM    Report this comment

I'm with the other posters who say, "just say no". I won't get on an airliner for pleasure travel and avoid them whenever remotely possible otherwise. If I can't drive, I most likely won't go. Our nation of sheepeople have accepted these indignities in the name of safety without learning what a farce it really is. Want safe flights? Give every adult passenger a sharp knife when they board. No guns, they damage airframes, but I firmly believe an armed society is a polite society.

Posted by: J. B. Stokley | December 5, 2011 7:56 AM    Report this comment

It's a good thing that 85 year old lady they strip searched was not in front of that cowboy...he would have probably would have tried to come the her rescue, kicked someone's ass and ended up in jail.

Posted by: RW speer | December 5, 2011 8:18 AM    Report this comment

Excellent writing, Mr. Niles.
It almost goes without saying that the TSA 'security' is nothing more than a charade or farce. It has nothing whatever to do with our security, and painfully illustrates just how 'dumbed down' we citizens in this country have become to the intrusions of government into our lives.

Posted by: James Hanson | December 5, 2011 8:26 AM    Report this comment

I'll add to this, after reading more posts and thinking about this a bit. The AIRLINES will have to be the pushers of change. The TSA is a government agency and is paid whether there are 1000 people/hr shuttling through the gates or 1. The airlines will feel the pinch and require change. They are the ones most deeply affected by the lack of travelers due to change.
One might wonder, though... would the airlines start pushing for user fees to squeeze GA? Not an easy long-term solution, but GA is definitely an alternative and we can make a difference if we really want to. I know AOPA is pushing for local "PR" folks (us at our own GA airports), but a point to further ponder is local FBOs advertising "alternative travel arrangements" to airline flying... This is "sort of" done now through journals that mostly pilots read anyway, but are we missing a golden opportunity to deal with TSA by giving alternatives?

Posted by: Eric Tallberg | December 5, 2011 8:32 AM    Report this comment

Well written! Thanks for the chuckle... I think I was that other guy right behind you, lol.

Posted by: Mark Cameron | December 5, 2011 8:50 AM    Report this comment

I think that when the awful thing happened in NY, we should have shot the everyone responsible for it without warning or trial like the Russian did recently in the gulf of Aden. Just let float a surviving guy to tell the story and that will be the end of it !! I know it's not fair, but where they fair to the innocent people who died ???

Posted by: JEAN D LEULLIER | December 5, 2011 9:02 AM    Report this comment

The only part of TSA Security that bugs me is having to take off your shoes. Is that just the most absurd thing ever - and because of one idiot on one flight?

If anything, this proves that 'One man truly can make a difference!'

Posted by: Peter Kuhns | December 5, 2011 9:03 AM    Report this comment

My comment three from the top was anonymous - apologies, something doesn't work on my system. GA is of course very attractive, but not an option for very many people. And in Europe, countries like the Uk and the Benelux area are very crowded, making long-distance driving less attractive. For the foreseeable future, I submit, it will be TSA or nothing, so we need practical improvements to the existing system.

Posted by: treuthardt | December 5, 2011 9:47 AM    Report this comment

This is what happens when a government program is allowed to set it's own rules. We the people loose all say in the process and trying to be reasonable with TSA agents is pointless. I' too was indignant when tolled to remove belts and shoes and then re-dress at the end of the process.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 5, 2011 9:48 AM    Report this comment

I wholeheartedly support using GA whenever possible, but TSA is going to be with us forever in airline travel. But, especially during busy times at big terminals, why can't TSA set up an information kiosk away from the security lines to patiently explain the process and rule changes, perhaps conduct practice screenings, allow folks to go check bags or otherwise dispose of restricted items, etc. before entering the security lines? It seems there are plenty of blue shirted TSA folks around to man the information kiosk at larger terminals.

Posted by: George Brewer | December 5, 2011 10:07 AM    Report this comment

George Brewer said "TSA is going to be with us forever in airline travel" - only as long as there are airlines flying and that might not be as long as you think!

Posted by: Adam Hunt | December 5, 2011 10:23 AM    Report this comment

If TSA had any intent to be courteous or make airline travel convenient, they would use more discretion and common sense about who to strip search, or overlook a 'design' on a teenager's handbag as NOT being a real gun.
But they don't, and they never will, because common sense isn't a requirement to be a TSA employee.

Posted by: James Hanson | December 5, 2011 10:28 AM    Report this comment

The two most idiotic parts of the "security" process is the "no/limited liquids" rule and the "take off your shoes" part. Adding to the pointlessness of those rules, I have many times been able to get through security with more than the "1-2-3" liquid rule permits, and I really don't see why they can't use SOME discretion. Why must I toss a perfectly good cup of coffee or bottle of water when it's completely obvious what it is?

Ok, I can understand the part about the pocket knife not being allowed on the plane by the person carrying it, but the TSA really should provide some way of getting it added to the checked baggage. It's easy to sometimes forget you're carrying it when it may be something you normally carry with you everywhere else. And with some of these items being $80+ in value, the least they could do is show SOME courtesy (but then, that would be too much to ask for these days, wouldn't it?)

The point is, there are ways to make the process easier and better, but what pressure does the TSA have to change?

Posted by: Gary Baluha | December 5, 2011 10:31 AM    Report this comment

At the heart of the matter is the absolutely irrational fear of terrorism. As for air travel, the biggest security gain was when they put locks on the cockpit door. That and passengers reacting to laugh aloud attempts like the underpants "bomber" (I wonder if his burns still sting when he uses the bathroom). All the rest is mass stupidity.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | December 5, 2011 10:35 AM    Report this comment

Besides the sadness of having lost a lot of freedom, I would like to know how many terrorists did they stop (around the world) with that system compared to the cost on our airline tickets ? When are they going to take away pens or pencils ? these items are very dangerous !! LOL !

Posted by: JEAN D LEULLIER | December 5, 2011 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Hahah, don't joke, someone from the TSA may be reading this thinking "hmm, that's a good idea"!

Posted by: Gary Baluha | December 5, 2011 11:03 AM    Report this comment

Gary: TSA doesn't necessarily need to get involved in securing banned items. You always have the option to opt out of security, in which case you (and your whatnot) will be escorted out of the secure area. You are then free to return to the airline's baggage counter and plea your case. If you're in luck, your bag can be retrieved. And if its too late for them to get it, TSA couldn't do it either.

(My brother was one of the lucky ones; Continental was able to retrieve/recheck his bag so he could stow his forgotten knife.)

Posted by: Rush Strong | December 5, 2011 11:08 AM    Report this comment

My suggestions for improving TSA screening - Let people keep their shoes on. (The US is about the only country which requires a shoe search and the I think the tradeoff of improved screening flow vs risk of a shoe bombing is a good one). Allow drinks in unsealed containers such as water bottles or coffee cups if the passenger drinks some of it in front of the initial screener, put "confiscated" items such as pocketknives and tools in the airport lost and found for 1 month before disposing of them, thus giving passengers a chance to reclaim them upon return from a trip.

Posted by: COLIN SMITH | December 5, 2011 11:43 AM    Report this comment

The only thing more dangerous to our freedoms than a politician is a regulator. At least you can vote out a politician.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | December 5, 2011 11:45 AM    Report this comment

TSA always reminds me of the old nasty eastern block dictatorships, and with their securrity -theater they wont help us ANY against the real terrorist.
Its to an unnecessary large extand a huge waste of taxpayers money and time. But it creates Jobs and certainly democrat voters!

Posted by: Lars Gleitsmann | December 5, 2011 11:49 AM    Report this comment

At the heart of the problem is, as several previous comments point out, the totally irrational way the public views safety concerns.

Virtually no one has a problem with getting into a car and heading down a packed freeway at 70+ surrounded by cars operated by strangers whose skill and physical/mental state is totally unknown. On the other hand, studies repeatedly show a majority of citizens are willing, even eager, to submit to unlimited abuse by the security establishment in the Quixotic quest for absolute, total 100% protection from hypothetical terrorist activity.

Unless the mass of our citizenry somehow magically become rational, we’re stuck with society’s TSA-type excesses forever. The only solution is to go GA, at least until TSA expands into an FBO near you.

Posted by: John Wilson | December 5, 2011 11:51 AM    Report this comment

Foreign governments have been complicit in all attacks against our travel infrastructure, so I think it's time to let them know that the next attack will be dealt with in a more serious fashion.

Next time, we will not spend ten years and trillions of dollars invading the perpetrator's country. Let's simply tell them that their Capital city will be completely leveled within 24hours of their citizen's attack upon US interests.

Posted by: George Dyer | December 5, 2011 12:10 PM    Report this comment

My wife has flown commercial dozens of times since 9/11 but she had to fly out of Walla Walla WA to find out that a half ounce tube of mascara is a liquid and MUST be with the rest of the liquids. For this blatant infraction she was snarled at then sent to the penalty box for a thorough search.

Posted by: Richard Montague | December 5, 2011 12:42 PM    Report this comment

From what I read, we are not close to return to:WE THE PEOPLE!!!

Posted by: JEAN D LEULLIER | December 5, 2011 12:49 PM    Report this comment

Very entertaining and enjoyable read, Russ, but I'm not taking the bash TSA bait like Pavlov's pilot. I see a real passenger dunce here, not doing a whit of homework about airport procedures that eventually, charming as it selectively appeared, could have really inconveninced a whole lot of people.

Wonder if 'Tex' would expect a certain consideration in his daily work and be as helpful, tolerant and civil as you and others were for him that day. But really enjoyed the blog.

Posted by: David Miller | December 5, 2011 12:53 PM    Report this comment

Those who say the TSA rules are mostly window dressing are probably correct. The limited liquid rule is especially specious. One can purchase up to 1.25 lire bottles of 70 proof spirits in international departure lounges to take onto the aircraft as carry on luggage. Even 34 proof spirits burn well. Last time I looked books of matches are also permitted. Why is nothing done about the stupid practice of loading up the aircraft with unnecessary weight when the same product could often be bought at the destination airport of an international flight. Presumably nothing is done by the TSA because of a feared commercial backlash.

Posted by: Keith James | December 5, 2011 1:59 PM    Report this comment

Sigh! I remember the good ole days when flying wasn't so complicated. TSA is a joke! They take their responsibilities so grandious. I really think they revel in their so called authority.

Posted by: David Monroe | December 5, 2011 3:08 PM    Report this comment

And Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) thinks GA should go through the same process before every flight. See as Paul has already pointed out here.

Posted by: John Hyle | December 5, 2011 4:16 PM    Report this comment

I fly for a fractional outfit that requires my company to airline me to the airplane that I fly. I consider airlining the worst part of my job. I would rather remove the lav tank that my airplane has rather than deal with the airlines and especially dealing with TSA. What a joke! For those who have flown out of BOS Logan should see the security nonsense at the GA fbo. That is even worse. I usually drive when I go on vacation. When I started with the company I fly for now, my wife was hoping I would be more willing to take an airline on vacation but soon realized that I had become even less willing to airline anywhere than I was before. Several times I have offered to my company to drive to where the airplane that I am assigned to rather than airline. Any time when I am at a GA ramp I cringe at the sight of a TSA person close to my airplane. Another thing to keep in mind, the FAA directive to the airlines to remove O2 canisters from the lavs. I am sure that came from TSA. Another thing from TSA that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, seeing a cockpit crewmember going into the lav knowing that there is (or will be) no emergency O2. Next thing you know TSA will be designing who knows what else for airplane certification. Until enough people actually vote out the idiot politicians who voted for or continue to support TSA we will be stuck with that idiot agency.

Posted by: matthew wagner | December 5, 2011 7:06 PM    Report this comment

Why don't we just put a AirMarshall on every flight. It would be cheaper and more effective than all the TSA people and equipment at the terminals. They would be able to observe everyone boarding and assess them for potential threats. Families could see each other off at the Gates and maybe spend money in the terminal helping the economy at the same time.

Posted by: Franklin Berry | December 5, 2011 11:25 PM    Report this comment

Sorry for the delay in responding, Dave Miller but I'm traveling (by road). I thought I might get more responses like yours and I agree. He could have done better but I honestly think it was so far removed from his personal reality that it would have taken him a lot more time and energy than he had. He wasn't in his element but something forced him there on short notice and he'll do better the next time I bet.

Posted by: Russ Niles | December 6, 2011 12:15 AM    Report this comment

I heard the Air Marshal program failed. The Air Marshals started going crazy so the TSA had to cancel the program. I knew that riding on commercial airlines was bad for hour health.

Posted by: DANA NICKERSON | December 6, 2011 8:51 PM    Report this comment

My uncle was first an airmail pilot and went on to
National airlines. i loved the story of when he landed short of destination in a loadstar airplane and put a man off at gun point.
20 years passed and I became an airline pilot. as Copilot. i flew with quite a few who carried a pistol. downloaded rounds of a heavy caliber pistol
will not cause damage to airplane, but at close range they are lethal. Pilots were murdered on 9/11,
lets not forget them and the fact the plane was not hijacked, but commandered, big difference. I carried a set of brass Kunks for a few years, lots of pilots had browning 25 autos in the 1960,s. Some 357.s.
There are numerous weapns available to make someone
whom the pilots don,t want to commandeer their airplane wish they had never opened the door.
Captains are responsible by law to portect the mail and passengers, let them have the airplane back.
and pay them 1% of the TSA expense, to stay current and qualified to be a cage fighter or worse.
Most of us would love it.

Posted by: art magill | December 7, 2011 7:48 AM    Report this comment

Russ - very enjoyable read.

I think that the underlying issue that really burns me about the security is the underlying cost. The security infrastructure is excessive and we do not appear to be using intelligence to make the process more efficient. Whether we recognise it or not, the added costs created by security procedures is ultimately borne by the air traveller - a group of consumers that appear to be decreasing. While we as pilots and others involved in aviation businesses are wringing our hands over the "death of GA", the decline of business travel, and consolidation of commercial carriers, we would be better served by addressing the discrete values and costs created by the security process. Lets get onto the regulators and ask them for a cost:benefit assessment of the present approach to airport/air travel security, and try and focus the debate on how to better employ the sunk costs in revitalising air travel.

Posted by: Jon Spalding | December 7, 2011 9:59 AM    Report this comment

The best thing that can happen to transportation in the U.S would be high speed rail.That is until TSA decided to infect it too.

Posted by: Ron Robinson | December 7, 2011 11:26 AM    Report this comment

High speed rail would be wonderful to me, I love riding the rails when I can, which is almost never. Of course then there might be track sabotage and dozens of new terrorist potential targets... Ugh.

This whole TSA aversion and resistance by passengers though could go by so much more effortlessly and swiftly, if but for one reason - more Asians were flying. In the movie 'Up in the Air', George Clooney was giving advice to his protege on how to get through airport security quickly - get behind an Asian! 'They're organized, pack light, and cheerful!' ;)

More earnestly, however, I have to say for me that yes, government does a lot of things I don't agree with, but once inside an airliner nowadays, I am eternally grateful to not have to breathe cigarette smoke or smell nail polish remover or such any more, so hiphip hooray for those changes.

So for me the good ole days might not be the same as others' good ole days, but we are getting better, I'm sure of it. Social media is increasing public awareness exponentially, we just need good leaders and sound policies to reflect it.

Posted by: David Miller | December 7, 2011 4:12 PM    Report this comment

TSA could tag any small item like a pocket knife or nail clippers and gather them up daily and charge a couple bucks to mail it for you.The problem is, this would have the appearance of working for you instead of against you and would be counter to the police control image they all cultivate.

Posted by: George Welch | December 7, 2011 11:41 PM    Report this comment

I won't fly airlines anymore. It never was a good experience for me. Riding in the back just made me airsick, for one thing! I had to fly them in the '60's, though, I was drafted in the military, and I was expected to use them standby, in order to go from fort to fort, as I advanced in training as a combat soldier to fight in Vietnam. One day, I boarded a B-727, before the back ramps were permanently disabled. Nice young fella that I was, I got up from my comfortable seat, when the stewardess asked me too, and she directed me down the stairs in the rear, out on the ramp! Cassius Clay was late showing up for his flight, and I was completely bumped off, him taking my seat! Talk about Rosa Parks, huh? cont'd...

Posted by: Ron Brown | December 8, 2011 1:53 AM    Report this comment

Well, I felt really naive, then! I wanted to fight Cassius Clay right then and there, but I really was a nice kid, and I didn't want to make a terrible disturbance, because my Mom was watching and a Catholic priest was trying to get Clay's autograph!

After that incident, I really didn't have much expectancy of human decency from corporate entities, especially "international" ones!

I survived Vietnam, sleeping with a bayonet clutched in my fist, behind my back. The bullets missed me, I danced with the grim reaper, thank God, not one time too many!

After Vietnam, I worked as a ramp rat at O'Hare, I got promoted to ramp agent, but they didn't have enough blacks promoted for the federal government, so, I had to give up my promotion to a black named "Ike", who was a cocaine addict.
I tired of the airline job, leaving for "greener" pastures!

Then, eventually, I was working, electronic and computer repair, and the companies that hired me often sent me across country to their difficult worksites. So, I had to travel airlines again!

Not too bad, before 911. But the public at large were trained to be total sissies, so it could be expected that boxcutters could take over the fearful public. As a soldier, I knew that boxcutters could make me bleed, but that they couldn't kill me, I would have simply strangled the Arabs on such a flight. cont'd....

Posted by: Ron Brown | December 8, 2011 2:15 AM    Report this comment

After 911, I was really shocked how every American had lost their right to life, being only collateral in a war between religious fanatics, all the Mideast lunatics!

My airline flying went way down, but I got screened a couple of times. I got old too, and I had a free casino trip to Bullhead City, and on that one, seriously, I completely forgot to take off my shoes! It was embarrassing! A lot of the seniors I was with, got their hands checked for gunpowder! I won't even go on a free airline flight anymore!

I don't like to be treated as the "enemy", by the big moguls, anymore.

I do like the pilots, though, and I was even offered jump seat on the airlines, (now illegal), just because I was a pilot, and I stayed at the same hotel as the captain, and we talked aviation from A-to Z!

But right now, you can't push this old man on any kind of airliner, especially those Airbus death droids! And I'm liable to break the screener's jaw, too!

Posted by: Ron Brown | December 8, 2011 2:30 AM    Report this comment

If you want to read about the height of TSA ridiculousness, read one of Les Abend's column in Flying Magazine. He described them taking away a 3 oz. Bottle of some liquid on a flight for which he was the pilot! Or another pilot who lost his pocketknife in the line, to which he replied "you know that as soon as I get in the cockpit, I will have an axe."

Posted by: Rich Bond | December 8, 2011 9:06 AM    Report this comment

Security is a myth, passenger symply will not allow any miscreants on an airplane, as has been demonstrated numerous times.
As I tell my lefty relatives, issue everyone a gun as they get on the airplane and there will be no hijackers and everyone will be polite.

Posted by: Ray Toews | December 8, 2011 11:22 AM    Report this comment

I can pretty much do nothing more than second all of the above comments. I haven't stepped foot in a US commercial airliner since the TSA began groping passengers.

And I let the airlines I used to fly know why. I also let the TSA know, which now probably has me on some sort of major threat list with them.

Where are the Occupy Wall St. types when we need them? I'd like to see them set up their tents in the screening area and start chanting about the Fourth Amendment. Short of that, I don't see how this lunacy is ever going to change.

Posted by: Michele Davis | December 8, 2011 11:40 AM    Report this comment

It's the Occupy Wall St. types that are the one's standing in line to get one of those cushy governMINT!! jobs ... with all the bennies that comes with being in a union employee. No fear of this job being outsourced.
I would rather stand on the corner and starve than work as a TSA knucklehead. I couldn't and wouldn't do it... but there are plenty of Sanduskies in the world.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | December 8, 2011 12:49 PM    Report this comment

Aw come one Ron Ive worked for Airbus and Boeing and can say that Airbus is far better sorry to say. Flying in Europe is a lot easier depending on the country most security check are quick and easy. But the us Brits don't really care about anything except football :-)

Posted by: Bruce Savage | December 8, 2011 1:13 PM    Report this comment

I don't fly commercially often (not that I'm rich I just don't travel for business). I can say the first time I flew commercially was in college before 9/11. I was by myself for the flight. I read every sign, reviewed the rules online and still was shocked at the process. The next time I flew commercially was post 9/11 and the process is way more complicated than needed. They assume everyone going through the lines knows what to do. I've been through the torture oh 5-6 times since.

Honestly one can think of 20 things allowed on the plane that are more dangerous than nail clippers with a "knife" blade or a key chain leatherman. The rules seem to be only to provide a false sense of security for the non thinker.

I haven't had a need to fly commercially since the back-scatter machines have been adopted. I have thought long and hard about this since radiation is cumulative I would rather submit to the pat down no matter how "safe" it is.

As a side note the first time I flew some how that came up as I was checking in. The girl was shocked that my "first flight" was going to be 7hrs. Not sure why. When I told her I have flown small single engine planes she was like oh, ok then this will be nothing.

Posted by: Joseph Chambers | December 9, 2011 9:10 AM    Report this comment

What if they REQUIRED every passenger to to carry a reasonably sized knife? Remember the old BIC pen commercial about using it as a can opener? And yet they allow this, but not my 2" pocket knife.

Posted by: Tom Serkowski | December 9, 2011 1:52 PM    Report this comment

Maybe nice isn't the word but this is a good article thanks. I've missed the worst of the silliness, touch wood but with the body scanners coming in, I'm on a diet so my image looks a little more svelte - let's see if I can get a smile out of one of those cute but stern security chicks. I wonder if I'll make the 6 oclock news the day I ask one of them, "so do you get to take that uniform home?"

Posted by: John Hogan | December 15, 2011 5:23 AM    Report this comment

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