Thursday, May 21, 2009

Flying the Unfriendly Skies - the Adventure Revisited

Most of you are well aware of my feelings about air travel. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary:

1. Customer service is a thing of the past;

2. The word "schedule" has a special, flexible meaning in airline language (similar to its meaning for the Fairfax Connector buses here in Northern Virginia);

3. Seats are comfortable only if you are built like Olive Oyl;

4. I can't see paying $4.00 (exact change always appreciated) for a "gourmet sandwich" consisting of a dried-out miniature roll, a single slice of mystery meat, a limp leaf of black-edged lettuce, and a sad slab of half-dry tomato; and,

5. To many travelers, "one carry-on bag and one personal item" means an upright piano and a steamer trunk, both of which they insist on putting into the overhead bin.

Just when I thought air travel couldn't get any worse, I found this article on CNN: Airport Security Bares All, Or Does It?.

Yes, my friends, according to this article, the latest thing to improve your air travel experience is the new security technology of "whole-body imaging," which is said to "perform a virtual strip search" and produce "naked" pictures of passengers. The machine is supposed to scan for objects and liquids on passengers, which is a perhaps laudable aim ... unfortunately, according to privacy rights advocates, it actually produces a relatively sharp image of whatever's under your clothes. Check the second of the sample images in the CNN article for an idea of what's visible. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

You may have seen the utterly hilarious 1980 film Airplane! (one of my all-time favorites), which took off on air disaster movies. One scene showed a line of people going through an airport security x-ray machine: attractive women showed up naked on the screen, heavily-armed people breezed through without incident...and every alarm in the place went off when a little old lady walked through (she was beaten up and hauled away by a crowd of police).

I think TSA must have found that machine in storage and decided to add it to their arsenal in the never-ending fight against terrorists, comfort, and convenience.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm in favor of just about anything that protects me from morons who want to spread their religious beliefs by hijacking my airplane and killing me. But sadly, I'm no longer the buff stud I was a few years ago. I look a lot better with clothes on. I'd rather not have a bunch of security folks giggling at my jiggling as I wheeze my way through the security maze.

I'm just not ready to wear lead underwear to protect my dignity.

So, TSA, thanks for what you do ... but please re-think this one. Go to Netflix, check out Airplane!, and try to see things as we traveling lemmings do.

Yeah, right.

Have a good day. Travel safely. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

Seriously glad that I don't travel by plane ever.

Debbie said...

TSA isn't the only "probing" security in our lives. Infrared cameras in Casinos see through most reds. So I always tell people I don't care for to wear red as it's a lucky color! :)

Leslie David said...

How about lining your underwear with aluminum foil? I personally have no use for TSA and I'm convinced that here in VA the VEC is a prime place to find candidates. When I worked for CBP I was repeatedly singled out for personal and luggage search despite the fact that I had undergone more background security checks than the people checking me, and was carrying Customs credentials. Why? Because CBP made me make my reservations at the last minute and guess who is targeted? One way tickets and last minute reservations.

fiona said...

giggling at my jiggling

LOL funniest line this year!
Great post dear xxxx

Mike said...

I thought they came up with a scaled back version of this that wouldn't go into so much 'detail'.

SusieQ said...

Obesity is a national problem in the U.S. that translates into a cost to society to treat diseases associated with obesity.

So I am thinking Whole Body Imaging, in which all our flab is embarrassingly revealed, is the government's clandestine effort to motivate us to lose weight. It is part of Obama's health care plan to cut costs.

Okay, so maybe I am being silly. Or maybe not.

Alex said...

The media ignores the simple fact: people don't need to fly. Flying is a luxury, partly paid in cash and part in the invasive (and bureaucratic) nature of the TSA-enabled system.

At the end of the day, it's a highly regulated (for better or worse) transportation service. The same could be said about NYC cabs. Don't like the policies or the fares of an airline? Simple, don't utilize them. Want to bypass most of the checks? Go private. Yes, it's expensive... but that's the trade off.

At some point, it seems the general public decided that flying was a basic right rather than a privilege. It's been downhill since then.

dancer said...

If this could take the place of my colonoscopy every 5 years, I'm all for it.

anOCgirl said...

oh my goodness. that second picture in the CNN article is quite scary (so much so that i gasped out loud and startled my boyfriend who is sitting right next to me). when life begins to imitate art (art = Airplane!), we've got some serious problems.

re the lack of comfortable seats...have you flown jetblue or virgin america? their seats are pretty much the only seats where my built-like-a-football-player boyfriend is comfortable. i usually fly these airlines when going home to california and comfort is a MUST for a 5+ hour flight.