New Random Search of Air Travelers – It Could be Worse

March 18, 2009 on 9:40 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, air travel security, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news | Comments Off

An article in USA Today reported  the newspaper had obtained a government memo indicating that a new, more aggressive screening effort was being undertaken by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).   This is not the usual inspections while you wait in line going through security, but searches of passengers randomly selected just before they board their plane for departure.  The TSA has indicated that this action is not related to a specific security threat, but just another layer of security to protect the flying public.

I do not know about you, but I calculate boarding time very carefully and pretty much know when the doors for a flight will open and boarding will begin.  Just before this occasion, I scurry to the closest airport bathroom in hopes that this stop will allow me to avoid using the “smellatory” that serves as a lavatory on airplanes.  I suppose they clean them every million miles whether they need to or not, but would not bet with you on this belief.  While I am on the subject, guys, how can you be such poor shots?  There is usually more pee on the seat, the walls and the floor than there could possibly be in the toilet’s waste reservoir! Of course, all of those people entering the restrooms wearing nothing but their socks, do help soak up the mess, unfortunately, those stockings and feet are usually resting on the back of my seat sometime during the flight.

But back to the subject – So, I can see it now.  There I am dancing around and getting ready for my mad rush to the toilet before boarding (after all, I have to get back in time to board as early as possible), when TSA grabs me and wants to do a search.  Oh great.  Talk about becoming and instant pariah. 

You know that half the people on the plane are going to feel sorry for you.  The other half will worry that the TSA guys were too incompetent to figure out where you had hidden that for which they were searching.  Of course, by the end of the flight, everyone will believe that you are a terrorist and a cunning one at that. Not to mention, that during the flight, Grandma Jenkins, making her first flight at the ripe age of  109, will be giving you the hairy eyeball – you commie, terrorist!  (This is beginning to sound like Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay.)

On the other hand, who is really going to want to sit next to you after the TSA besmirches your reputation - so you might have an empty seat next to you, as a small boon for your embarassment.

I am all for stringent security and I have to admit that TSA is better than some systems I have witnessed. 

A few years ago I was flying out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for Zurich, when the poor fellow in front of me in the security line set off the metal detector.  He patiently explained that he had a metal plate and several surgical screws in his thigh, as the result of an accident. 

It was clear that the security personnel were having difficulty understanding this, and the traveler opened his briefcase and produced several X-Rays of his leg.  Well, I guess the security team had no way of really knowing if those were his X-Rays,  or if they were X-Rays of his thigh, so they dropped his pants, right there in front of the world.   Yes, they dropped his pants for him, then, the team began examining the large scar on his leg.

This set me to wondering how many experiences Saudi airport security had with terrorists implanting IEDs in their bodies. (If ever something was aptly called an Improvised Explosive Device, this would have been the textbook example.)  Fortunately, after whacking on his leg and giving it quite a few feels, it did not explode and they allowed him to board the plane for his return home to Zurich.  

Ah, modern travel!
 

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