Big Brother Is Watching You... Pack
November 20, 2007 7:25 AM   Subscribe

The TSA wants you to know, dear American, that if you don't pack your bags neatly, the terrorists have already won. This busiest Thanksgiving travel week ever, why not Simplifly?

(Brian Williams tries to our methadone Jon Stewart)
posted by dw (95 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
So everybody complains about long waits in the security, the TSA offers some tips that could possibly help everyone, and that makes them "Big Brother"?

Sounds to me like they are just trying to make things easier for people. I didn't recall any statement in these articles that said you would be punished or have your boarding pass revoked for not packing neatly.
posted by tadellin at 7:32 AM on November 20, 2007


Editorialize much? The TSA is responsible for security checkpoints. This is the busiest travel time of the year. People get grumpy when the lines move slowly. TSA wants to suggest ways that people can help the lines move more quickly. What in the world does that have to do with "the terrorists [winning]"?
posted by pardonyou? at 7:32 AM on November 20, 2007


This is why I will never fly again. I love the "We're here to help" line on the linked page.
posted by AstroGuy at 7:35 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Can't we all just work together and make it easier for The Authorities to violate our privacy? Come on America, you can do it!
posted by ekstasis23 at 7:35 AM on November 20, 2007


3-1-1 Never Forget.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:36 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


(Brian Williams tries to our methadone Jon Stewart)

What does that mean, eh?
posted by Mister_A at 7:37 AM on November 20, 2007


Brian Williams tries to BE our methadone Jon Stewart

D'oh.
posted by dw at 7:40 AM on November 20, 2007


This kind of makes sense actually. I'm all for speeding up the process. Nothing ticks me more than the dude who had to drudge up their photo ID from the bottom of their suitcase when they get to the checkpoint even though somebody's been announcing," Have your fricking photo ID ready before you get to the checkpoint," for the last 20 minutes. After all, dude's gotta' stick it to the man!

Can't we all just work together and make it easier for The Authorities to violate our privacy? Come on America, you can do it!

I don't understand this. Is America really the only country who does security checkpoint at the airport? Or is it just too easy?
posted by jmd82 at 7:45 AM on November 20, 2007


I was doing a lot of travelling last year, and I did basically that for the same reasons. I even got in the habit of packing small things in ziploc'ed lots, found it was easier for me when packing and getting around to know exactly where everything was.
So really you just could call this sensible travelling advice, security reasons aside.
posted by Billegible at 7:45 AM on November 20, 2007


What in the world does that have to do with "the terrorists [winning]"?

It's an idiom. Or a figure of speech. Whatever. But it's a meaningless phrase.

But it's OK. I mean, if no one on MeFi snarked at my post, then the terrorists... never mind.
posted by dw at 7:45 AM on November 20, 2007


My last flight (through LAX, nightmare airport that it is), resulted in a vow to never fly again...

I plan to keep that vow, until the airlines provide humane seating, customer friendly service and accommodations, on time service and no overbooking....and the government realizes that we are not the enemy, treats us with respect, and provides the infrastructure to implement regulations in a manner that does not cause unreasonable delays, and is not dehumanizing. Until then, if I can't get there in a reasonable time frame through some other mode of transportation, I'm just not going...
posted by HuronBob at 7:49 AM on November 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


Meh. It's all bullshit anyway.
posted by chillmost at 7:49 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Lame editorializing. I'm all for getting people to move through the line faster. It boggles my mind when I fly that people still sit there and argue about liquids or have disregarded all the signs that they should remove their laptops from cases.
posted by proj at 7:50 AM on November 20, 2007


" TSA wants to suggest ways that people can help the lines move more quickly."

I'd like to suggest a way the TSA can help the lines move more quickly, too: ENGAGE IN LESS SECURITY THEATER.
posted by majick at 7:52 AM on November 20, 2007 [24 favorites]


Brian Williams tries to BE our methadone Jon Stewart

What does that mean, eh?
posted by nowonmai at 7:53 AM on November 20, 2007


I found the security to be authoritarian and ineffective last time I flew, and that was in June 2001. I'd pay triple for a train ticket before I even considered flying under the current circumstances. No liquids? I mean, seriously.
posted by DU at 7:53 AM on November 20, 2007


He means that Brian Williams is to John Stewart as methadone is to heroin, eh.
posted by Mister_A at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2007


The TSA could double the speed of the lines with no loss of security. Stop making people take off their shoes. Stop the stupid liquid rules. Learn what a laptop looks like on Xray.

That's all they need to do. Instead, we get this nonsense.
posted by eriko at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


Heck, just come to my house and pack it for me, why don't they? (Actually, I'm not flying this season, but still.)
posted by konolia at 7:57 AM on November 20, 2007


As much as I enjoyed the Brian Williams clip, and as much as I hate the useless security checkpoints, I really do pack like that. Why would you want to go on vacation, or on a business trip, with your things in disarray?
posted by uncleozzy at 8:00 AM on November 20, 2007


What in the world does that have to do with "the terrorists [winning]"?

The TSA are the terrorists, duh. Terror - fear of being delayed, fear of being illegally detained and searched, fear of being deported, fear of being harassed, fear of in-flight explosives, fear of catching athlete's foot at the checkpoint - this is the TSA's capital and their stock in trade. They maximize terror for all airplane travelers.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:04 AM on November 20, 2007 [8 favorites]


What majick said.

If the TSA could demonstrate that all of the nonsense we are subjected to when we fly (take off your shoes, no gels or liquids, etc) actually made us safer, that'd be one thing.

Instead what we now have is the very people who made air travel such a pain in the ass telling us "jeez, c'mon, you stupid people are slowing everything down, get with the program!"
posted by ekstasis23 at 8:06 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, of course, some of the security steps are next to worthless. But I still don't see how that makes this particular (common sense) suggestion Big Brother-esque.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:08 AM on November 20, 2007


there's no place in the world i can't reach in my truck that i want to get to bad enough to subject myself to this level of indignity.
posted by bruce at 8:09 AM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


eriko writes "Stop making people take off their shoes. Stop the stupid liquid rules. Learn what a laptop looks like on Xray."

Yeah, these are the culprits, and when you consider how much time is wasted on them, they're a monumental folly.
posted by mullingitover at 8:09 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dignity is over-valued in some quarters.
posted by Mister_A at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2007


The new face of terror.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:15 AM on November 20, 2007


I agree 100% that many of the current security rules are a pain in the neck and largely ineffectual. But that has nothing to do with the suggestion that packing travel bags more neatly can expedite travelers' passage through security. An objection to unreasonable rules is not a ground to oppose a reasonable suggestion. This is particularly true when adopting the suggestion is not burdensome and has at least some chance of benefiting you, the traveler.

By the way, the editorializing in this post is asinine. "Big Brother"? "The terrorists have alreaady won?" Save it for the things that actually matter, please.
posted by brain_drain at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2007


We've given up on the carry on thing all together and just check anything we possiblly can curbside. It really does seem to make the whole shuffle/shove/stuff it in there expierence of the airport and flying at least a little bit more bearable. I have however promised myself to draw the line if I ever come out the other side of the metal detector and find a guy wearing latex gloves and holding a flashlight in his teeth waiting for me.
posted by Wonderwoman at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2007


In dw's defense, I read the "editorializing" as a flippant pot-shot at the general ineptitude of the TSA and our anti-terrorist security theater in general, not a serious howl of outrage about the reasonable suggestion to pack neatly.
posted by Mister_A at 8:21 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lots of dirty socks, sweaty dirty socks.
posted by edgeways at 8:25 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


My tongue was firmly in my cheek. Can't you see that over the internets?

I pack (mostly) like this myself. But the security theater is ridiculous.
posted by dw at 8:32 AM on November 20, 2007


OK, fair enough! *bites thumb at TSA*
posted by brain_drain at 8:34 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, the very fact that we're treating the aftermath of 9/11 as a War on Global Terrorism -- complete with Terror Alert Levels and a TSA to "protect" us proves conclusively that the terrorists won quite handily. I'm embarrassed at living in a police state that tells itself it's the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Meanwhile, just aas with the DEA in the other War with Initial Capitals, the TSA now must self-perpetuate and self-justify. So -- are they checking cruise liners? Greyhound buses? Amtrak stations?

From the TSA web site:

Passenger Volume & Wait Times
On Monday, November 19, the average peak wait time at the nation's top 40 airports was 11.8 minutes, a 0.2% decrease from last year.


Maybe so, but between the TSA, the FAA, the airlines, and the airports themselves, there's no way in hell I'll fly anywhere for fun again. I don't need the aggravation.

(And I wonder how easy it'd be for a mole to get a job in the airport ground crew and slip something into the luggage-handling process that looks like any other suitcase but ultimately goes "Boom.")
posted by pax digita at 8:38 AM on November 20, 2007


The new face of terror.

Heh. That happens at least once a year where I work. We have one transformer connecting to the main power grid and squirrels are oddly fascinated with it.
posted by jmd82 at 8:38 AM on November 20, 2007


I heard some flippant remark this morning on Today about the TSA not liking pies or cakes coming through. What the heck is up with that?
posted by Big_B at 8:42 AM on November 20, 2007


I just flew United from Bradley to SFO via Dulles. My plane was delayed for two hours. When I got to SFO, me and about 10 passengers from Bradley waited for over an hour at the luggage carousel for our bags to appear. At one point, an agent asked those who were still waiting for their bags to raise their hands, but provided no additional information. Our bags never arrived. The agent then -- short-temperedly and condescendingly -- asked us all to fill out lost luggage forms. Then we were told (by someone else) that the bags would arrive a couple of hours later. It was already past 10pm Pacific -- we'd been in airports for over 12 hours by that point. Most of us elected to have the bags delivered the following day rather than wait and risk further disappointment.

I called United's 800 number and was told the bags would be delivered within a four-hour window yesterday. I happened to log on to their website, and discovered that the agent had gotten my NAME, ADDRESS, and TYPE OF BAG wrong, which, shall we say, minimized the chance of successful delivery. So I called United back and corrected the address. I checked the website again and the address was now incorrect in a different way. I called again. The bags arrived at the end of the four-hour window.

I will continue to fly United. But one wonders why anyone flies at all with service like this. Throughout the interminable wait for the bags, the PA system kept announcing that the "threat level is orange" and warned not to leave bags unattended. It was United that seemed to be leaving my bags unattended.
posted by digaman at 8:48 AM on November 20, 2007


Between the complete ineptitude of the airlines and the jaw-droppingly inane security theater, I can't imagine a more customer-hostile industry.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:54 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just fly private! ; )
posted by ericb at 9:01 AM on November 20, 2007


A friend of mine's sister (and the sister's boyfriend) were both TSA screeners. Both of them were terminal cretins, and really, that's where the next airplane scare is gonna come - not on a carryon.

That we're supposed to be little balls of OCD with respect to our carryon luggage is akin to being asked to put our groceries in the order we want them bagged. Do you want me to wipe your ass for you, too?
posted by notsnot at 9:01 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


It was United that seemed to be leaving my bags unattended.

Last Christmas, my wife and I were bumped from a connecting flight because they'd brought a smaller plane than originally planned, and there weren't enough seats for all.

Our bags? Sent on the connecting flight. Without us.

I guess Lockerbie was a long time ago.
posted by stevis23 at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2007


being asked to put our groceries in the order we want them bagged

Why wouldn't you do this? It makes someone's tedious job easier, speeds up the process for everyone, and reduces the chance that your eggs or bread will get squished. Although really, I'd rather use self-checkout and bag my groceries myself.

If I could do self-security scan, that'd be just dandy. "Nope, no explosives here. We're all good." Oh and also private roads to drive on. Or a hovercar, I'd settle for a hovercar, so long as I had the only one.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2007


Maybe so, but between the TSA, the FAA, the airlines, and the airports themselves, there's no way in hell I'll fly anywhere for fun again.

Thank god, your outrage was slowing the lines down!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


TSA is a minor issue. Take your damn shoes off, dump your water, shuffle on through. At least it's a predictable nuisance. I think anyone that flies a major carrier these days - Delta, NW, United, deserves to be abused if they could have chosen an actual profitable company that treats it's pilots and stewards and employees well. I fly out of my way to use Frontier and Southwest and have never had a delay that was within their control and am treated extremely well, and that's with two kids in tow. The major carriers are doomed.
posted by docpops at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2007


I guess Lockerbie was a long time ago.

Wrong war. The bad guy is willing to go down with the plane.

Furthermore, even if he wasn't, this isn't a flaw. Is the bad guy *planning* on being bumped to save his ass?

You need to pull the bags if the passengers miss the plane. If the airline walks them, that's a different story.
posted by eriko at 9:20 AM on November 20, 2007


How many more times can we mention "security theater" in this thread? Furthermore, a lot of people are conflating "bad airline service" with "TSA incompetence."
posted by proj at 9:23 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just last week:

19 U.S. Airports Fail Security Test
"How serious is it that undercover teams were able to smuggle bomb components, including liquid explosives, past passenger checkpoints in all 19 airports they tested this year?

So serious, in the view of investigators, that they made a video showing in slow-motion detail how they blew up several cars with bombs made from the commercially available materials, purchased for less than $150 in local stores or on the Internet.

"Our tests clearly demonstrate that a terrorist group, using publicly available information and few resources, could cause severe damage to an airplane ... by bringing prohibited improvised explosive device components through security checkpoints," said Gregory Kutz, a managing director for the Government Accountability Office.

But the nation's top transportation security official, Edward 'Kip' Hawley, downplayed the findings in a tense hearing Thursday, insisting his screeners focused 'on what might actually take down a plane, as opposed to what could do severe damage.'"
Riiight!
posted by ericb at 9:26 AM on November 20, 2007


Everyone I talk to says they won't or don't fly anymore. If the security theatrics become so draconian that almost everyone will refuse to fly, does that mean the only folks left on airplanes terrorists? Sounds like an easy way to sort them out!

"Okay, everyone, clothes off, heads shaved, now wait here on this cold steel examination table for 75 minutes for Inspector Ratched to call your number for a portal search. Oh, what's this -- your name is Mohammed? -- PUCE ALERT! WE GOT ONE!"
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:30 AM on November 20, 2007


Um, I do present my groceries in the order they should be bagged.
I don't see a problem with doing something that a) deals with the reality of a situation rather than how I want it to be, b) is little-to-no effort on my part, and c) makes other people's lives easier.
I call it being nice. It's worked pretty well for me so far.
posted by Billegible at 9:36 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is why I will never fly again...

posted by AstroGuy


is there a term for opposite of eponysterical?
posted by snofoam at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2007


TSA warns TSA to be on the lookout for anti-terror agents
posted by homunculus at 9:49 AM on November 20, 2007


That we're supposed to be little balls of OCD with respect to our carryon luggage is akin to being asked to put our groceries in the order we want them bagged. Do you want me to wipe your ass for you, too?

Oh dear. I do unload my groceries onto the conveyor in roughly the order I want them bagged. Stay away from my ass, please.
posted by cairnish at 9:52 AM on November 20, 2007


This was on the news last night on the local NBC affiliate. The anchor read through the spiel on the teleprompter, which was basically the TSA line "packing your bags like this will make you get through security faster and make your holiday traveling easier..."

But at the end of the bit, under his breath but still loud enough to be clearly audible, he sort of snorted and said "good luck."

That about sums it up.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:54 AM on November 20, 2007


"How many more times can we mention "security theater" in this thread?"

At least once for each person going through the security checkpoint. Security theater deserves repeated mention because, let's not mince words, it is the root cause of the problem in question. Poorly packed luggage is neither a security threat nor a reason for security screening to be time consuming. Freaking the fuck out about people's shoes is a reason for security screening to be time consuming. Shitting bricks over the size of a toothpaste tube is a reason for security screening to be time consuming.

Security theater isn't some insider joke of the day. It's the primary function of TSA inspection, and it's worth driving that point home over and over again until the organizational stupidity ends.
posted by majick at 9:59 AM on November 20, 2007 [19 favorites]


Take your damn shoes off, dump your water, shuffle on through.

fuck no, fuck that, fuck you.
posted by quonsar at 10:00 AM on November 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


Everyone I talk to says they won't or don't fly anymore. If the security theatrics become so draconian that almost everyone will refuse to fly, does that mean the only folks left on airplanes terrorists?

Don't forget the business-travel set -- they're essentially captive customers. Even in my highly virtualized work environment at Pretty Big Company, there's still a surprising amount of jetting around for meetings. And I suppose people who need to fly from California to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, for example, are another sort of captives.

I believe I saw news stories over the weekend to the effect that the US domestic carriers were expecting air travel to be at record levels over the holidays despite all the delays, security(-theater) and otherwise -driven. But unless somebody else is paying, even if it's a family emergency, either I drive (and maybe arrive too late) or I ain't goin' -- this system doesn't deserve my money.
posted by pax digita at 10:07 AM on November 20, 2007


If any terrorists could email their details ahead to let the TSA know they are coming that would be an awesome timesaver, thanks!
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on November 20, 2007


I really want to berate the folks who are so powerfully stickin' it to the man by not flying, but I can't.

I mean, if I had a car that could get me from NY to DC in 90min, I'd never fly again either. And an ocean liner that can skim from NY to London in five hours - that must be really fun.

Me, I have places to go and a limited amount of time to get there, so I guess I'm stuck taking shoes off and buying overpriced tapwater. The best part? You can really never, ever go back.

Nude, cathetered, comatose, and encased in immobilizing safety gel here I come!
posted by abulafa at 10:10 AM on November 20, 2007


Security theater isn't some insider joke of the day. It's the primary function of TSA inspection, and it's worth driving that point home over and over again until the organizational national stupidity ends.

The stupidity isn't limited to the TSA; it's far more widespread than that. The TSA didn't invent itself, after all.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:12 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


A propos to security theatrics, though this doesn't happen at airports. . . At Yankee stadium, and other miscellaneous venues, there's a security rule that disallows bringing any bags inside, except purses. So, when I, a man, arrive at said venue after work with my tiny little backpack with my notebook, pens, and the novel I'm reading, am not allowed inside, and all these women cruise by me with these behemoth "purses" I am sorely tempted to initiate a bit of dialogue concerning the social construction of gender identification.
posted by flotson at 10:26 AM on November 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


Yes, but where is the page that directs people to leave whomever they are sitting next to on the plane alone in peace? That's the page I want. It needs to have an illustration of me reading a book and the person next to me quietly minding his or her business.

Security I don't mind, it's other people on the plane that piss me off.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:27 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Take your damn shoes off, dump your water, shuffle on through.

fuck no, fuck that, fuck you.


So how's that working out for you?
posted by docpops at 10:35 AM on November 20, 2007


Have any of you ridden on Greyhound or Amtrak lately? I'm at the point where I'm happy the TSA exists if only to actually enforce luggage and etiquette rules, at gunpoint if necessary. Airplanes remain the last bastion of travel where a hundred people don't all simultaneously think "oh, I'm sure it'll be okay if I bring an extra three suitcases and an entire Domino's Pizza on board with me; excuse me while I talk on my cell phone for the entire three-hour trip."

I think TSA screeners are paid shit and treated like shit and the shoes/lighters/liquid nonsense is just that- nonsense- but as far as this "surrendering liberty" shit goes, all hail the goddamn nanny state because lordy, we have proven that as far as large groups in confined areas go, we need one.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:37 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


the PA system kept announcing that the "threat level is orange"

Current threat level: EXAGGERATED
posted by sfenders at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2007


If I had a car that could get me from NY to DC in 90min

But you can't get from NY to DC in 90 minutes by plane, either. At the tightest, that's an hour to get to the airport, you need to arrive an hour before you leave, an hour to fly, an hour to get from the airport to DC, that's *four* hours and almost certainly five.

The train is faster, somewhat cheaper (it's about $250 return which is more than the plane but the cost of getting to and from one of the NYC airports makes up the difference), has less security theatre and is more comfortable.

AND it uses a lot less energy per person.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Have any of you ridden on Greyhound or Amtrak lately?

Greyhound has always been a horror but I ride Amtrak fairly often on the eastern corridor and it's really pretty civilized, particularly if you avoid peak times. You can plug in your laptop, walk around, hang out in the restaurant car, that sort of thing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:55 AM on November 20, 2007


Screw the TSA. I'm patiently waiting for one of Mr. Garrison's vehicles from South Park. Not sure how my ass is gonna take that thing periodically being rammed up it, but hey, it's better than dealing with airports! ;)
posted by jamstigator at 11:00 AM on November 20, 2007


The stupidity isn't limited to the TSA;

Agreed, but this thread is about the TSA, and a stupid request that they have made. It's stupid, not because it's will speed things up, I'm sure that they are correct in this regard. But because they are asking people to modify their behavior specifically so that the TSA can continue to waste time in other areas.

I think people assume that inconvenience is an indication of greater safety, that the screeners are being more rigirous and diligent or something. It's not.

All it's indicative of is a system that desperately needs to be completely overhauled.
posted by quin at 11:10 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


an hour to get from the airport to DC

It never takes me that long, even during rush hour. It typically takes about fifteen minutes. I don't disagree with your main point, though - taking the train between DC and NYC is much more pleasant.

As for the main thrust of the thread, I just don't see big delays as a result of taking your shoes off, etc. I don't like doing it, because I think it's stupid, but it doesn't take any more time as far as I can see. And carryon bags have been x-rayed for a long time, there's nothing really new there.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2007


I just don't see big delays as a result of taking your shoes off, etc.

10 second to get the laptop out into a tray. About the same to pack it. 15 seconds to get your shoes off, close to a minute to get them back on, if they're laced. Another thirty seconds to dig out your liquids, similar to repack.

Multiply by the number of people in line, and it's a *serious* waste of time and money for basically zero gain. If it was actually preventing realistic attacks, I'd think about accepting it, but it's not. The TSA is wasting countless hours and countless dollars and increasing our security nil.
posted by eriko at 12:33 PM on November 20, 2007


Look, I'll be driving from DC to New York tomorrow, so let me know if you are too. I'll wave.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:33 PM on November 20, 2007


Airplanes remain the last bastion of travel where a hundred people don't all simultaneously think "oh, I'm sure it'll be okay if I bring an extra three suitcases and an entire Domino's Pizza on board with me; excuse me while I talk on my cell phone for the entire three-hour trip."

The airlines took care of that on their own before. We don't need the TSA to do this and that's not what it's for.
posted by grouse at 12:46 PM on November 20, 2007


Multiply by the number of people in line...

But it doesn't work like that. Everyone is taking off the shoes simultaneously, unpacking their laptop at once and then repacking etc.

The bottleneck in my experience -- and god knows I do too much traveling -- is always the X-ray machine itself. There's a line of people stood in their socks with 2 or 2 grey trays in front of them queuing up to feed the machine.
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:54 PM on November 20, 2007


I routinely smuggle small delicious sandwiches into my stomach. I do it through an ungarded mouth entrance. This often involved copious quantities of liquids as well.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2007


But it doesn't work like that. Everyone is taking off the shoes simultaneously, unpacking their laptop at once and then repacking etc.

First of all, I think eriko was talking about the cumulative person-hours we all waste...we could all leave for the airport a half hour later if it weren't for this crap.

Second of all..have you been to the airport lately? Cripes, people in line are more poorly prepared for what they know they'll have to do than they are for an obvious, oncoming highway merge.
posted by stevis23 at 1:19 PM on November 20, 2007


I just don't see big delays as a result of taking your shoes off,

Funny, that's the spot I always see the most congestion. They don't even do the most basic things to make it easy on you, like have a supply of chairs to sit on. This is merely inconvenient for a younger person, dangerous for an older person (who might no longer be very good at the task of "standing on one foot while removing a shoe from the other foot".)

In Korea, they give you little sandals to walk on. Small but really nice. You put the sandals back in the little box. Sweet!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:31 PM on November 20, 2007


Having been on planes just about every single week this fall due to a packed-solid teaching schedule, I've endured more than my fair share of TSA stupidity.

(And I say this as someone who helped roll out the new TSA screeners at Logan a few years back -- it was a semi-horrible temp job -- I know how they were trained and how they're supposed to behave).

Among the indignities:

1. Being asked to take off my non-zip, hooded "MAINE" sweatshirt on a freezing cold morning. Long story short, I wasn't wearing a bra -- or anything else -- underneath because a few years ago I was practically molested by a screener at O'Hare thanks to my terrorist-style underwire bra. She got up in my bra with her fingers, for heaven's sake. Gross.

So now I just don't wear them on the plane at all. I practically had to shout that I was nude underneath in order for them to keep from forcing it off me. And then, when they wanded me, I got yelled at for not straightening my arm the whole way (I can't, due to a prior injury and lots of scar tissue, and told them so as they were screening. So much for critical listening skills).

2. I asked one screener to hand-inspect me because I'd just had minor surgery on my foot and couldn't walk around on the tile without my shoes...at least not without shrieking in pain and spewing lots of potential baby staph infections everywhere. (Good luck, passengers who came after me! Sorry about that!)

He refused to get me to a screening area where I could sit down to take off my shoes and be checked appropriately, as he should have. I nearly fell over trying to stand on one foot, and a fellow passenger helped me balance until I could get through the freaking x-ray.

3. Last year, coming back from a conference in California, I managed to carry on a portable knitting loom full of SHARP, POINTY OBJECTS, yet got pulled out of line and busted for carrying lipgloss. Lipgloss. Oh yes, the very balm of terrorism.

4. TSA searched one of my checked bags last year going to another conference and STOLE -- yes, STOLE -- a copy of one of my books. You would not BELIEVE the paperwork it takes to make a claim on this, by the way.

So yeah -- fuck the security theatre, fuck the TSA, and fuck pretty much everyone who thinks they're a good idea. Can someone give me ONE example of a real terrorist plot that's been foiled by the TSA? One?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:37 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Lupus: I agree, but substitute NY-LA as the endpoints and take the option of a train out, and I think my point stands. Four hours in the air or 24 hours without rest.

Also, 90 included arriving 45 minutes early for the shuttle and the 45ish minutes of flight time. It's perfectly doable and lets one travel for a day of meetings and get back before 1am.

Nonetheless, you make excellent points I've often wondered about - why they make de-shoing and de-belting so unbelievably unfriendly. I once sat in some seemingly-convenient chairs at the Denver airport and was immediately shooed away, "Those are for passengers awaiting screening!" (That was 2002, I'll grant.)

As for the carbon footprint, I can't find proper data comparing the high-speed train to air travel; the eurostar/air comparisons may no apply to US trains and the only emissions information I can find from Amtrak has no cite but shows the train at about 1/2 the emissions of air travel per passenger mile.

What I don't know is how many passenger miles are spent wending one's way along the eastern seaboard compared to arcing through the atmosphere.
posted by abulafa at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2007


egads... sorry... after re-rereading that, I realize I need a nap. I'm like a cranky toddler just thinking about the TSA...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:40 PM on November 20, 2007


So, anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this? I know, I know, it's the internet, we're only supposed to whine about things, not do anything about it. But it'd be nice to be able to travel quickly from place to place, and at long distances, air beats train or boat.
posted by garlic at 2:44 PM on November 20, 2007


egads... sorry... after re-rereading that, I realize I need a nap. I'm like a cranky toddler just thinking about the TSA...

And here I was about to comment about the apropos of your name.
posted by jmd82 at 2:47 PM on November 20, 2007


I dunno, garlic. I'd say "boycott US air travel," but the sheeple pretty much outnumber those of us who refuse to participate in the charade.
posted by pax digita at 2:49 PM on November 20, 2007


bitter-girl.com : yet got pulled out of line and busted for carrying lipgloss. Lipgloss. Oh yes, the very balm of terrorism.

*chuckles*

That was terrible, b-g.com.

posted by quin at 2:53 PM on November 20, 2007


That's me. Yup. Terrible. :)

What with the tits of terror and the lipgloss and all.

I am NOT kidding, by the way, that screener at O'Hare should have slipped me her number afterwards. Sheesh.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:04 PM on November 20, 2007


egads... sorry... after re-rereading that, I realize I need a nap. I'm like a cranky toddler just thinking about the TSA...

posted by bitter-girl.com


Eponysterical!
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on November 20, 2007


ericb, after getting the sort of physical manhandling that usually requires an advance payment, in cash, I think you'd hate the TSA, too... ;)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:29 PM on November 20, 2007


I agree 100% that many of the current security rules are a pain in the neck and largely ineffectual. But that has nothing to do with the suggestion that packing travel bags more neatly can expedite travelers' passage through security. An objection to unreasonable rules is not a ground to oppose a reasonable suggestion.

I agree 100% that a shit sandwich isn't tasty. But that has nothing to do with the suggestion that ketchup is tasty and it can help the flavor of a shit sandwich. And objection to a shit sandwich is not a ground to oppose ketchup.
posted by ryoshu at 4:25 PM on November 20, 2007


I'll quit packing my dirty underwear and socks at the top of the suitcase the day they stop making me take off my shoes and walk across a filthy floor a thousand people with athelete's foot have just trod across. Tit for tat, I say.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:39 PM on November 20, 2007


ryoshu, that is all absolutely true!
posted by brain_drain at 8:21 PM on November 20, 2007


And then there's Japan, which is now going to fingerprint incoming folk. That is alarming to me. Constant monitoring by corporations and government… that's heading way too far down the path of 1984.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 PM on November 20, 2007


See, I'd have no problem with that at all, if they did it in a polute inobtrusive way and didn't get all up and in your face and upset about miniscule amounts of toothpaste.
posted by Artw at 9:27 PM on November 20, 2007


And then there's Japan, which is now going to fingerprint incoming folk. That is alarming to me. Constant monitoring by corporations and government… that's heading way too far down the path of 1984.

Since 2004 I've been fingerprinted and photographed every single time I've entered the US, and on a couple of occasions when I've left the States I've had my index fingerprints taken again, by TSA agents using mobile fingerprint scanners.
posted by essexjan at 1:24 AM on November 21, 2007


on a couple of occasions when I've left the States I've had my index fingerprints taken again, by TSA agents using mobile fingerprint scanners.

That's not the TSA, but CBP.
posted by grouse at 1:57 AM on November 21, 2007



I agree 100% that a shit sandwich isn't tasty. But that has nothing to do with the suggestion that ketchup is tasty and it can help the flavor of a shit sandwich. And objection to a shit sandwich is not a ground to oppose ketchup.


But see, you're not questioning the underlying assumption that we must consume the shit sandwich. All the fancy ketchup in the world isn't going to make it anything but a shit sandwich--so we object, so that we may at least upgrade to a stale Moon Pie or something like that.
posted by stevis23 at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Icelandic tourist to US held for two days, shackled, deported -- over a ten-year-old visa mistake
posted by homunculus at 12:12 AM on December 17, 2007


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