Thursday, December 31, 2009

Travel Silly, America?

After the unfortunately timed incident on Flight 253, the TSA predictably came up with reactive changes to their airport security process. The second security check at boarding gates from Bombay went from being a slow yet short procedure involving the familiar scanner to a primitive manual effort with very few people rummaging through your carry-on bags with white gloves. I can personally attest to two zippered pockets in my carry-on bag going untouched -- so much for "additional security."

Matters only headed down dark comic/silly lane during the flight. People who checked in were told that the inflight entertainment systems were going to be off for the flight. This may not be such a big deal for a domestic flight (do they have these systems on domestic flights?) but it's traumatic for a 16-hour flight across timezones. Mercifully, they decided to leave the systems on.

The culmination of the silliness came with the announcement that during the last hour before touchdown, everyone had to stay strapped in their seats. No excuses. No exceptions. Nature's call? Defer it. Leak time? Plug it (I can see the market for adult pampers going up). And your laps must be bare. No jackets. No pillows. No blankets.

After getting to a computer several hours later, it was not hard to find out more about these new rules. The "leaked" version was online. Now this is merely "official" confirmation for the silliness anyone flying after December 25 would have experienced. And yet, the TSA goes one step further into the realm of "doh!" by issuing subpoenas to the bloggers who received the "leaked" rules and posted them for all to see. I'm baffled. What's the point? The only reactive people in this battle against terrorism are organisations like the TSA. The terrorists have always made the first move and there's enough in the system for them to exploit and cause more havoc.

Dear administrators of airport security, please reconsider your reactive approach to this mess. I'm sure you can do better.

update [january 01, 2010]: The new year brings good news. The TSA has withdrawn the subpoenas. It's a great plug for the value of public outcry. Of course, the damaged hard disks and the threats issued by the agents will remain as exhibits of an ugly PR mess.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, George.

I personally, as an American, feel America should loose ego and learn a bit about airport security from other countries, India being one on the list. Ever since my first trip to India in 1998, I was always impressed about the separate and private security checks for men and women. While my American counterparts may feel segregating sexes is 'stone age' I don't. I feel that I have privacy when I get security checked in India- not only is it in a small, private chamber, but a woman is checking me, not a man, and no one else sees it. It appalls me in America all this is done in public without any privacy.

India has had all this in place well before any scares in the US....as I am sure other countries too (I am only familiar with India...).

BTW as we found out that person who was caught was found to have a bomb in his UNDERWEAR. So, what's it going to help to not have anything on one's lap??

 
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