If FF have been following the news, a major new airline threat has been foiled, apparently thanks to an infiltrated agent in Yemen and Saudi intelligence. For all who feel any anti-Muslim sentiments, I ask you to differentiate between the vast majority (I would say 99% or more) who are against Al-Qaeda and terrorism and the very few extremists who advocate it or remain silent. The agent who infiltrated Yemeni cells must certainly have been Muslim, and we have him and the Saudis to thank for the thwarted plot.
I want to take this opportunity to assert Fourth Amendment Rights because I feel since 9/11 Americans have had their personal liberties violated without reasonable cause by TSA agents who are for the most part not trained to look for materials that are dangerous. Hair spray is dangerous, but weapons regularly get through security. (And I have seen frightening knitting needles on many an occasion on a plane.) I write because I feel I have been. despite being elite FF, blue-eyed blonde, 60-yr-old woman with a 20 year old position at a college, regularly subjected to secondary if not primary screening until recently when Delta seems to have knocked certain of its FF into special lines thanks to the first guard at security. At JFK and Logan I regularly (until Delta seems to have stepped in during the past 6 months) was called aside for secondary and invasive screening that I find humiliating and degrading. Nothing about me warrants such treatment.
I am not saying 60-yr-old blue-eyed blonde female FFs do not pose a threat to security. There have been a few occasions when I wanted to... But the latest scare, which proves all metal detectors and scanners do not detect the latest threats should tell us we are once again looking at the LAST THREAT.
I'm a professor, so of course you all know (ha) I must be a civil libertarian, but I will take Ben Gurion's screening any day over what regularly happens to me in the US. If I were not an international traveler, I would rather take the bus most of the time since we don't have trains worth taking.
But I really want to ask, why does no one seem to care about the government's violation of our Fourth Amendment Rights against unreasonable search and seizure?
And as an addendum, not only because these new threats will not be detected by the machines, why are we not simply profiled based on our flying, our destinations, our methods of payments, our behavior at the airport, our carry-on or checked luggage etc.? Ben Gurion got me through everything in 5 minutes. And they have not had a terrorist attack on their airlines. I do not favor ethnic profiling, because obviously anyone (like Pennsylvania Jane or whoever) could become that, but reasonable questioning without strip searches, footwear removals, computer removals and sometimes stealing, etc. are unacceptable. Simply a careful assessment of someone probably provides more info than any metal detector or scanner.
I think the past 48 hours of news has shown that metal detectors and scanners won't detect advanced devices -- and extremists will always figure a way around that. So why not let the flying public fly? Stop the people who pose a real threat. I'm not going to stop flying -- I just hate it being the worst mode of travel imaginable.
This is another great post for the day, (Pluto had a great one today on Train travel in Europe).
You are so correct, this TSA is a violation of our rights. Next week I will have to go thru it again. I am sick of being checked for "Gunpowder residue" and patted down.
If I did not have to fly, I wouldn't either. I know after this year my travels will change by choice, there are other ways in this world to have enjoyment.
Finally this "Optimist", thinks it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better! Hope I am wrong.
Thanks for the vote of confidence. While I'm not a fan of the IRS or some other agencies, the TSA and Homeland Security are at the bottom of my list because I don't think they do anything but make the occasional flyer feel better. For the FF, it is a huge hassle, especially in international airports (though more so in the US than abroad).
I hope you're wrong too. I hope someone finally figures out the millions of dollars spent for machines that don't work (and may -- possibly -- give some of us cancer) could be better spent in checking us out. Who are we before we check in? Are we buying a round-trip ticket? Are we FF for a long time? Etc, etc, etc. I could go on ad infinitum, but I am so utterly sick of US so-called security, which strikes me as nothing more than making the vast majority of the flying public here 'think' they are protected from terrorism. They are not, nor will we ever be, at home or abroad. But exposing us to needless humiliation and radiation is not the answer.
I think we all make choices. To fly or not is just one of them. Honestly, I'm not thrilled about the procedure required to get on a plane and would actually prefer profiling, ethnic, behavior based, or otherwise. But, I know that our (my country's) methods to prevent another major terrorist act are many, as are Israel's...they don't rely just on their profiling, even as effective as it is. But, we have been safer since 2001, whether we like the procedure or not. As for the choices, some will say their job requires it. The job we have is a choice. I'm qualified to do more than one thing, and think most others are as well. If it's a matter of preference, then there may be unpleasant circumstances that accompany that preference or choice. Professor, you sound miserable if you are utterly sick of US so-called security. And the thought of posing a threat to your own security during the security process also endangers others. Not sure exactly what you meant by that, but I hope those thoughts fade quickly. You're right about one thing...extremists, although I prefer to call them terrorists,
will figure out a way around existing security systems, all the more reason why we must continue every possible method to avoid another attack. It's worth the inconvenience to me. No civil libertarian here, and I've met only a hand full of college professors I'd consider as such.
To fly or not to fly is not an option for me -- I must, since it's part of my research. I'm not a civil libertarian either, but I do not believe the US government does anything in the so-called security measures by Homeland Security and TSA than make non-FF flyers feel they are more secure. All evidence suggests that the kind of screening we do makes no difference whatsoever, since terrorists of whatever ethnic, religious or other group is responsible. I HAVE to fly about once a month internationally for research, and almost inevitably I am hassled (like I said till recently with various Delta flights where I seem to have been separated out).
I think if we are safer since 2001 it is because passengers on many flights have taken matters into their own hands (all recent attempted terrorist attacks) and not because TSA or Homeland Security has made us safer. Maybe they have but my interactions with most of them have not exactly provided confidence -- like when I had a horrible fall in Turkey on a ferry and returning through JFK they let me walk through after I explained I could not bend to take shoes off -- no bells and whistles, but suddenly whisked back. Told I had to take off shoes, but had no place to lean on to take them off. I fell over. No one helped me. I leaned on the security belt and pulled myself up, more or less sat on it so I could take off my inoffensive shoes to satisfy the agents, then had the same problem as soon as I (of course) passed security. No one helped me or cared that I was disabled.
I frankly have nothing but disdain for TSA, except in some places like Bangor where they are both nice and understanding. Everywhere else I have been treated either as a potential criminal or mistreated as a disabled person.
I do not believe we have been safer since 2001 because of TSA or Homeland Security. I think that has everything to do with CIA, FBI, agents abroad, including Muslim agents abroad, and our military. But at the risk of being denied travel next time I try to do so, I think most TSA agents are inadequately trained, poorly educated in risks, and unable to detect real threats.
It's not worth the inconvenience to me because I experience it every month or more often. I will take profiling any day.
No offense intended, but I believe that before I reached the level of misery that you express, I'd have to find another job that doesn't include flying. Like I said, we all make choices. Some of them are very tough, personal, with substantial consequences. And I completely agree that profiling ought to be one of the tools we use. Your letter might be more appropriately addressed to Senators Snowe and Collins. I am one of those occasional flyers who does feel safer Now, I'll take my F and take a different class next term to satisfy this requirement for graduation.
I agree with you entirely. We drive everywhere, but I would have to put up with it if I had to fly internationally.
To see on the news where toddlers have to be patted down as well as an elderly cancer victim in a wheelchair having to remove her protection pads is disdainful. It's a way to mind condition us into submission to anything that the once free country wants to through at us, including interment camps and disappearances.
England had much worse to go through in WWI and II than what we experienced on 9/11, and even though 9/11 was a horrific incident, it was nothing to the loss of freedom that we're willingly giving away in the name of safety.
I love that a distant cousin now adds the following tag to all of her e-mails. She is carrying on their family business since her husband died and knows how much things are changing.
"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have." - Gerald Ford
My real point is that I don't feel safer with our so-called security measures. There have been numerous instances of weapons, etc. getting through checkpoints. I believe most of what occurs at US airports is cosmetic, to make us think we are more secure. Most of the failed terrorist attempts have occurred as the result of either passengers on planes taking action of their own or high-level security by agencies like the CIA working in tandem with local groups in high-risk areas for terrorism. As many have said, we always seem to be fighting the last battle when new 'security' measures are imposed.
And NUHusker, Sen. Snowe is retiring, and for that matter I don't think any of our elected officials have the guts to do anything about this.
The fourth amendment is quite clear: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
This is where I think Ben Gurion and El Al has it right. They were not at all intrusive -- shoes and jacket remained on, none of my personal belongings were searched except going through the xray machine (even my computer didn't need to be removed from my luggage) they went through and in no way did I feel any of my rights were violated. I also did not have to go through any of the backscatter machines whose safety I don't believe has been proven. Instead, they talked to me and sized me up using smart profiling as they have been doing with passengers for decades without a problem.
I'm not a frequent flyer, but I am feeling pretty safe about travel (where the issue of terrorism is concerned) these days, and I have no idea who/what to thank or give credit to for that. No bombings or hijackings since 9/11, and that's no small thing. There was a time when I worried about cities, ball stadiums filled with crowds, dams and airports being blown up, but nothing in eleven years (and I'm sure it's not for not trying). However that's happened, I'm thankful.
TSA is just another line to me (lots of lines in this life, this world), however if they had done to me what they've done to you, I'm certain I would not feel that way, and I think it's terrible the way you were treated. This speaks to my general dissatisfaction and disappointment in the rude and unprofessional manner which permeates airport and airline employment in general, which more often than not causes me to feel less than human when traveling by air.
I am a Million-miler on two airlines, and a platinum for life member in two hotel chains, so it might be said that I do have some experience in travel. Your missive is for the main part correct, and I agree with the points that you have made. The problem here is that the whole affair regarding TSA is political. It was suddenly adopted by the politicians as a "feel-good" measure that would let the politicians off the post 9/11 hook without them actially doing anything substantial.
You are correct with regard to Isreali security being far superior, but you need to take it one more step as regards to the fact that no Isreali airline has ever been hijacked. There have been multiple attempts (many of which resulted in the death of the hijacker), but none successful.
Making choices has nothing to do with the efficient accomplishment of a task. It is, rather, often used as an excuse for those not willing to face the issue and find a way to overcome.
As long as the politicians are in charge of our security, you may expect moves that will make them look good, regardless of the effect on our safety.I am glad that I am now retired, and only have to submit to the TSA Inanities on an infrequent basis (How many crimes have been committed wit nail clippers?), so I hope that you will be able to bear the wholly unneeded indignities and know that we are our own security and TSA is a front.
Keep your chin up it is only a few years to retirement.
Hi Professor - While I'm not a frequent flyer, I fly enough to find what you are complaining about annoying as well, to say the least. Are the steps being taken making our lives as air travelers safer? Arguably, yes, but, and it's a really big but, at the expense of our civil liberties. I agree that the list of banned items seems, at times, to be arbitrary at best. I, too, have seen knitting needles that could be easily be defined as a "deadly weapon" - an item that, in the way it is used or intended to be used is known to be capable of inflicting death or serious bodily injury (according to NH law). I've seen them in the lap of the seemingly elderly, benign grandmother seated next to me on Southwest. I can't tell you number of full-size tubes of toothpaste I've lost when I've forgotten to take the full size out after a train trip to New York, and replace it with the 3 oz ones in the plastic bag when I fly. We put astronauts on the moon - you'd think that we could tell the difference between a tube of Crest and plastic explosive!
All this being said, I think that nhhusker does have a point in that as flyers, we either have to accept what is going on or find our mode of travel severely limited. Like the good Professor, I'm not ready to stop flying - but at the same time, I'm not ready to stop feeling as if we, as a country and a people, are traveling down a true slippery slope - a slope that may well have very negative consequences regarding our civil liberties.
Well said, NHTraveler. I obviously cannot cut down my travel, and since it's overseas I have to fly. But I wonder why there seems so little concern in general over this infringement of a major amendment to the Constitution? To me, the terrorists have won (or the politicians have let them win) by doing so. I DO think airport security can be done well and in some places is, but not in the current situation where we are forced to partially undress, get groped, and elderly women, men with colostomies and children are faced with what I consider unacceptable violations of their rights.
To the degree this may not seem Marriott-related, I would not get to any of the Marriotts I stay at if I didn't fly.
I can comment on that. I was returning from Canada some time ago and I made a mistake and went throuogh security for domestic flights. I did not have to take my shoes off and they were less strict on liquids. They first took out whatever was for medical reasons and then the rest must fit in a quart. I got through fine and then realized that I was in the wrong place. I had to exit and go through security for departures to the US. I now had to take my shoes off and they took some of my liquids.that were OK for Canada.
Yep, I'm two hours driving from the borders of both Quebec and New Brunswick (and sometimes do a day trip if I feel like it). I don't fly from Canada because any of the major airports are too far, plus the fares are much higher. One really good thing though when I have flown home from Canada from conferences, etc. is that you go through customs there at most airports, which saves a lot of hassle on the other end.
GABill -- everything we do is a choice, other than dying I suppose. Just as complaining (which by the way does nothing towards the efficient accomplishment of a task) is a choice. I would suggest that some find it more convenient to whine than figure out a way to overcome as you put it. Some of us have been in situations where there was no choice and have the scars to show for it. All without whining. And trust me, the choices weren't oatmeal or eggs in the concierge lounge. Why don't you make your case on airport security to your elected officials?
I must respectfully disagree with your assessment that TSA does nothing to improve flight security. I think the security measures that are taken are immensely effective and helpful.
Also and frankly, I don’t see it as an infringement upon Constitutional rights. No one is confiscating anything, unless it is an item of suspicion, in which case you’re probably going to be detained for questioning for suspicious criminal activity anyway, which is not a violation of the Constitution. While I have been asked permission to have my bags opened and inspected (and am usually asked to open it myself), I have NEVER been ordered to do so or had anyone do it against my will, nor has any of my property ever been confiscated against my will. They have always been respectful with my property. On the occasions when it has been discovered that I am in possession of an object that is not authorized past security (like an oversized bottle of liquid or a pair of craft scissors) I was simply told that I could not bring the item any further. No one took it away from me. I had a choice to make as to whether or not to abandon the possession. And I must honestly admit that about 9 out of 10 times when I am found to be in possession of an unauthorized object, the fault has been mine, because if I had followed the rules (and I do know the rules; we all know the rules), I wouldn’t be in that predicament. The ONE time that I had an unauthorized item that wasn’t the fault of my ignorance, was because I got bad information from the airline clerk behind the ticket counter. My checked bag was overweight. I took a full jar of peanut butter (don’t ask) out and asked if it would pass security (it seemed solid enough to me). She apparently agreed as she told me yes, but guess what? It didn’t. I was forced to abandon a $4 jar of peanut butter. In the big scheme of things, not a big deal. I have been asked what certain items are used for and why I am traveling with them, but the line of questioning to me has always seemed intelligent in nature, according to their mission to ascertain potential security risks.
I have NEVER observed any fellow passenger using knitting needles on board or any other sharp object or any object that could otherwise be construed or fashioned as a weapon or component of a weapon/detonation/explosive device/system, and I am 100% convinced based upon my own personal experience that there is no way in hell that any TSA security agent or surveillance technology that I would ever meet would EVER allow me to take a pair of knitting needles aboard an aircraft, and no, I don’t think my craft scissors or a pair of knitting needles should be allowed aboard an aircraft anymore. In these times, it’s just common sense. As far as having to step into an imaging machine which renders my image virtually naked on a computer screen, sorry, not a big deal to me. Having a female gloved TSA agent pat me down? Again no big deal. Shoes and jackets and pockets and belts and taking the laptop out of the bag and putting it in a tray by itself? Just part of the drill. I go through no less that that to gain entrance to Disneyland or the Big Fresno Fair. It’s what we do in this day and age in the interest of security. Again, maybe I am numb because of my military and technology background, or maybe I’m just a sheeple, I don’t know… but it’s not a problem to me.
In summary, in my own personal experience, while an employee may be (and most often is!) abrupt, rude or even mildy discourteous in manner, my Consititutional rights have not been violated by illegal search or seizure at airport TSA security checkpoints, and I personally don't have a problem with the current system that is in place. I am NOT a frequent flyer, and I do imagine that if I were, it would be a colossal pain, but I was very encouraged to read about the streamlining of certain passengers in certail large trial airports, to which it sounds like you have had the good fortune of being part of this new program. I hope it proves to be successful and is able to be rolled out to most airports.
Warmest regards as always.
On the theoretical/constitutional side, it's the probable cause aspect that bothers me. I feel all of us are treated as potential terrorists. That said, I too am heartened by the new procedures for very FF travelers that is being tested at various airports, although it's been challenged, ironically, as unconstitutional. I've benefited a couple of times from it (though still had to take off my shoes and jacket, just permitted to evade the backscatter radiation machine).
I am one of those people who when I even get close to the security line already have my shoes off, jacket off, watch off, 3 oz ziploc bag in hand, computer out, etc., so that I am practically unable to move. The problem comes when people who never travel find out at the last minute that they have to take all these things off or out, which can cause missing a flight. I never have, because not having learned to drive (my parents didn't believe in that for women either) till I was nearly 50, I always get where I have to be a few hours earlier than recommended.
But as to the knitting needles, I most assuredly have seen nearly foot long knitting needles (right across the aisle) and that was only a couple years after 9/11.
And finally, while the documented cases of truly horrible treatment (which I mentioned earlier) are fairly infrequent, my own experience coming from Turkey after a ghastly fall, as I mentioned, was terrible. Even though my sandals got me through the screening machine when I got to JFK to change flights, the human being said I had to go back through. I explained I could not bend, but they said I had to take my shoes off before proceeding. I sat on the belt, then they said I couldn't. I finally had to lean against the wall as securely as I could and take off one at a time, all the while holding on for dear life. Then when I was past I asked if someone had a chair I could sit on so I could put my shoes on again. This was JFK, mind you. No way. And since I had not been able to buy any knee braces my last day in Turkey, it was only the beginning of a number of falls.
My point is we need common sense. I do not feel a bit safer with all these machines -- less so since there is no definitive proof that backscatter radiation is safe. (Much medical evidence takes years to accumulate, and there is some evidence already that especially for younger people it could contribute to develop of melanoma.)
Anyway, I respectfully agree to disagree.
"I feel all of us are treated as potential terrorists." It's true, you're right. We are. I don't know what to say to that. At some schools, kids have to go through a metal detector to get on campus. It's a matter of where to draw the line and how to agree on the most practical and effective measure to gain the desired outcome, and I certainly have no answers, but it makes for interesting discussion.
"The problem comes when people who never travel find out at the last minute that they have to take all these things off or out, which can cause missing a flight." That is a problem indeed! If only we didn't have to put up with each other - Ha! I only say that because as soon as I rag on someone for something (usually some idiot driver), I go on eventually to make the same mistake. Oops. People's ignorance of TSA rules which causes the line to slow down annoys me just as my forgetfulness is no doubt equally annoying to others. I've been that person that so annoys me!
Once, an agent asked me if I had anything in my backpack that's not allowed. "No," I replied. "Are you certain?" "Yes." "Step to the side, please." "O-Okay." The bag gets opened. Out comes a metal nail file or some small but sharp craft tool (can't remember now! ). "What's this?" "Oh crud (sigh.) I swear, I did not know those were in there. I am SOOO sorry." Then a look that says, "Ya right, I've never heard that before." "No, REALLY, I TRULY didn't know they were there!" Turns out they were in there from long ago, and I missed them; thought the backpack was emptied before I put it away. Too bad. Forget about slowing down the line. I just lost another item, and ticked an agent off.
Last year. San Francisco. Get off the plane, get my luggage from customs and get on the tram to the domestic terminal. En route, I get a phone call from my son's school. He's been suspended for a day. Great. Welcome home. I'm upset. REALLY upset. The phone goes in my back pocket. I NEVER EVER put my phone in my back pocket. Then, through the TSA line. The metal detector beeps. And beeps again. Aaaand beeps again. Each time they prompt me, "Is everything metallic removed?" "Yes." "Step over here. We are going to have to pat you down." "I'd like a female, please." "Of course." Nothing. Hmmm. Try again. As soon as I line up to go through the metal detector, it hits me. The cell phone in the back pocket. Where's a giant rock to crawl under when you need one?
Maybe bone-heads like me just shouldn't be allowed to fly. Shall I start a poll?
"My point is we need common sense." Totally agree. More than that, we need common courtesy. And maybe sensitivity training toward disabilities.
"less so since there is no definitive proof that backscatter radiation is safe." Perhaps there is something to be concerned about there, especially for the frequent flyer. Let's hope not!
Please understand that was not meant at you, since you obviously travel frequently. And your stories are great! I have seen more than one person in customs accosted by an agent because of a cell phone.
If there were truly dedicated lines to FFs who go through the drill constantly, I don't think we'd have that much of an issue. Some airports, I know, have started using family lines, frequent traveler lines, etc., though I haven't noticed much of a difference.
And to be more direct than in my last email, my worst offender seems to always be my bra. (Dangerous stuff, that!)
Have not taken anything personally. Just enjoying the discussion.
Family lines. What a great idea! Who want's to be behind a double stroller loaded down with twin toddlers and enough items to start a retail baby business?
It's always been a known fact the the woman's brazierre can be used as a deadly weapon! (I wonder if I'll be censored for that?)
PS - I just have to add one more thing. I am used to pat-downs, which you get everywhere in the world as a female if you where typical upper undergarments. But I have experienced (always at home, never abroad) completely intrusive what I can only call 'feel ups'. That it is done by a female TSA agent does not make me any happier about the experience though I (do not) grin but moreorless (bare) it.
The amusing thing is that I learned a way around it. Obviously it opens me up (haha) to even worse humiliation, but it also acts as a deterrent. Wear a dress, which I normally do in real life as opposed to airport life. It causes a certain pause and I have found it does deter the worst problems. (I think you can tell by now that I am not mouthing off as some constitutional expert but as someone who's experienced some of the bad aspects of TSA.) I have also pondered the possibility of not bathing or using deodorant for several days, but that would preclude getting upgrades .
The worst problems come at the big airports like (in my experience) JFK, Newark, LaGuardia, and BOS. At Detroit, I've never had a problem, even with my undergarments. So there is, evidently, decisionmaking that goes on at airports, though I suspect those thought most 'at risk' are given more 'guidance' from the government.
Having read all of the above, i just wanted to add my 2 cents in here. I travel frequently and don't have any problems with the TSA or the machines. What I object to is that the policies are not consistent. At Miami, one time they took my deodorant out and told me to take it out in the future. I have never been asked this previously. Next time i flew out of Miami, i didn't take it out, and was never questioned, nor did they request of me to open the bag. The Security procedures are meant for our own safety. I agree with someone above, that you should contact your elected leaders to make any changes that you deem necessary.
I rarely ever see anyone taking out their toiletries any more---I don't. Was this policy changed?
The inconsistencies are annoying. Last time I flew, everyone had their plastic bags out with their little bottles of liquids, and TSA enforced it. I put everything that can be remotely considered liquid in my plastic see through bag anymore - because of the inconsistencies in determining what is liquid and what isn't.
Here's the link from TSA on what is and is not acceptable. Agree or disagree, these are the rules, although admittedly sometimes not enforced consistently.
That's the problem---they are not endorced! Once i went thru the body scanner and it beeped. He asked me if i had anything in my pockets, and I replied "no". I stepped back and went thru the body scanner again, and it did not beep! Nothing changed on me, the guy was frustrated and didn't know what to do, so I left.
I had to travel with my dog once, post 9/11. I was told by the airlines that a USDA certificate of health was required. $175 later, when I flew with the pet, no one asked to see the certificate. I remember that, but you know, I have no memory of taking the dog through security, or how that played out. I don't remember them asking me to take the dog out of the pet carrier (it was a soft sided mesh get up that looks more like a small gym bag than anything else) so they could inspect it, and I'm sure he didn't go through the x-ray machine!
Just a quick note to end my participation in this subject...
Writing a letter to your congressperson is like writing a letter to Detroit (ie. absolutely nothing happens). Th only way that some of thee TSA policies get changed is when they enforce one of them on a high-ranking member of the government. Very cynical of me, but also very true.
Professor, you are correct in that the worst situations are in the biggest airports, also the best. I fly from the Atlanta airport (which is the busiest), and one hour plus in the security line is common. However, the "Elite" lines were started and tested here. They are also experimenting with a "disability" line, which makes a lot of sense to me, as the inspections are different and more cumbersome. Also it has been my experience that the worst of the customs and immigration people are in JFK.
I will also leave you wih a question... Why is it that foreign airports can accomplish the required security checks so much better than U.S. airports? please remember what the security check is supposed to accomplish. I offer for example Isreal, Taipei, Tokyo, London-Gatwick, Melbourne, Bangkok, and the best I have encountered Singapore. It has never taken me more than 30 minutes to clear inbound or outbound security in Singapore (and it is also a beautiful and efficent airport).
Also please remember that the TSA is now a "government agency" and will behave as such in the future. As Lazarus Long once observed "civil servants is always interpreted as civil masters"
Bye for now.
Don't say bye -- unless it is just this subject. I also find that airport screening is accomplished much more efficiently at most major hubs abroad than in the US, and here JFK is by far the worst of the major international airports. I've often seen unattended luggage blown up at CDG after the terminal was cleared briefly and after an announcement was made. Yet it doesn't cause major delays.
I try to avoid JFK at all costs, which means flying west to go east. I almost never have to take my shoes off abroad, which is nice, especially in winter when I've left from Maine. Oddly the one thing I've found TSA does better is allow you to have the security-FSA-approved case covering your computer or netbook to go through screening. This seems a total hit with netbooks, but less so with computers. Overseas, except Israel, I've always had to remove my computer from the approved case.
Even beyond security, airlines treat you better elsewhere. When I could not fly Skyteam to do overday tours in Turkey and Egypt, I flew Turkish Airlines and Egyptair. Neither was at meal time, but I was given a full meal (do you believe???), treated wonderfully at airport and on the plane and beyond. While I find Heathrow and Gatwick a pain, the former has gotten a little bit better lately in my experience.
But you are absolutely right. When Ted Kennedy got screened, it made waves. Unfortunately, nowadays, they seem to pick on the least likely suspects. (I feel so strongly on this matter because several yrs ago in Logan Airport, before Delta moved to Terminal A, I had my flight delayed and delayed and had to go outside of the particular wing of Terminal C to eat or visit the lounge. In the space of about 5 hours, I was pulled aside all three times. You're just going to have to trust me that I am not a suspicious character in any respect). Until very recently, I got pulled out of line about 1-2 of every three times, which I would call anti-profiling to make others feel better.
Ironically, at Ben Gurion, they did not even blink that I had Turkish and Egyptian visas in my passport.
I think all of this needs to be more sane, both for our sake and that of the airline industry. While I'm not a huge fan in general, I think they get the brunt of much of passenger anger after endless hassles. (Except at JFK, where the gate agents at 23 and 25 should all be arrested IMHO for over-the-top rudeness and animosity toward passengers.)
On that note, cheers, ProfC
How can anyone consider that nothing is being confiscated when so many toiletries and cosmetics and other personal hygiene items are confiscated or just left at home because they know they will be taken? That isn't an open-eyed assessment of the situation.
And then compound that with the essentially open borders and the unwillingness of the government in the last decade or so to deal with people coming in unscrutinized and often made citizens with no background check. There are lots of prayer rugs tossed aside in the desert of the border states before they dress in their better clothes after getting to the U.S.
Don't you think that if our airline travel is so scrutinized by mostly people of decency that they should be at least as diligent about the southern border, and a lot of that money could be better used by the INS and then follow up on the laws that we have in place for legal entry.
To deny what is going on in relation to our civil rights at the airports and then not see that what is going on in regards to the more serious situation of illegal entry is folly, to put it kindly.
The security people are not allowed to think or maybe just not capable. I heard a pilot talking about security finding nail clippers and taking them. He told them that was uncalled for since if he wanted to take the plane down, he could just crash it. He was taken aside and thretened, etc before letting him go. To me, what he said was right on.
In our country, they look for the bomb. In Israel, they look for the bomber.
In my science classes, we were taught, when looking for a needle in the haystack, shrink the haystack by eliminating what you know is not the needle. If they did this, they would be able to better find those who might hurt us.
I have given the extra check a large percent of the time because for a while I was traveling on an open jaw ticket and a separate ticket connecting the jaws. This was a one way ticket which they were looking for. Even though I traveled the same route many times that was never connected. While they are checking me, they are not checking someone who might be a terrorist.
Mathematical models can be developed for close to everything. They could develop a model to help determine who might be a terrorist and use that.