Usually associated with delicious oven-baked turkey, sweet yams, and mashed potatoes – this year’s festivities may be a bit different. As I am sure you have now heard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun its heightened security measures which include the unveiling of their new “body imaging” machines and the controversial “pat down” procedure.
As with any frenzy covered and fueled by our 24 hour news cycle – the reality must be parced from the sensational. With all the coverage and stories, we were meant to believe that Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, was going to be a national day of travelers in protest – up in arms even refusing to comply with these draconian procedures. Well not quite. http://abcnews.go.com/US/national-opt-day-bust-security-delays-thanksgiving-travelers/story?id=12237056
The reality is this. More than anything the last week of stories and accounts and build-up should serve as wake up call to the airline industry and the TSA. Travelers are sick and tired of the escalating baggage fees and unforeseen charges and they have had enough of the drastic cuts in service. You have to pay for a water? This new security measure is simply the last straw.
As for the news coverage: The TSA has gotten the worst of it. In what amounts to a PR disaster, they have made innocent travelers feel like inmates at Sing Sing. As the New York Times reports, John Pistole the head of the TSA, “has become the unwitting face of everything Americans hate about airport security in a post-9/11 world, the most recent outcry being the agency’s new pat-down procedure, which many passengers say feels invasive and inappropriate.”
The hoopla began a few months ago when the “body imaging” machines became operational. Issues of privacy were brought into question. Why? Because the images are able to see through a person’s clothes and reveal everything. http://www.livescience.com/technology/090401-airport-scan.html Some travelers feel that this procedure is going too far and they have called into question 4th amendment privacy rights.
In an effort to put these machines to the test, I recently subjected myself to the scanning machines on a flight from Madrid to New York. Walking through the line everything seems familiar. Take out your laptop. Don’t forget your shoes. Then the savvy, motivated personal in TSA uniforms instruct you to enter a swiveling platform, here cute yellow painted feet on the ground show you where to stand and as you look around a twinge of fear flashes in your eyes. Even if for a moment you may feel as if you are about to be teleported, the procedure takes less than 10 seconds. Like almost everything about air travel these days, if you go through the process like a blind, deaf farm animal – head down and feet forward – then no problems await.
But…if after peering through your clothes, the machine operator still feels you may be hiding something, then a simple signal and wave is given. Soon another officer will appear and will ask you to turn your head and cough twice. Well almost.
The reality of it all has become clear. Thanks to various terrorist plots, most notably the “underwear” bomber. Government officials, the airlines, and TSA have all resorted to a new low. Treat everyone like a possible threat.
On some levels it is tough to blame them – a persistent threat seems to remain but the question must be asked – how far is too far?
For one man, the line is here and a new catch phrase has been born.
While I am sure some will follow his lead. Many more are forced to fly throughout the year. And in turn we become forced to play by a set of rules set out by the airlines, and as shown, the TSA. While the need for security is not going away, at the least let’s hope that the airline companies can see and hear that travelers are fed up and are tired of having no say. They are tired of the increasing fees and the diminishing services, fewer flights, longer lines, and now these new “necessary” security measures. The concept of simple travel – flying in fashion and comfort – seems to be a thing of the past.
Well I sure hope it isn’t.