Sunday, July 13, 2008

The skies are still friendly, it's the terminals that aren't.

As I have mentioned elsewhere on teh intarw3bz, I will be driving to Norfolk in August despite the very generous offer from one blogger to throw some Frequent Flier miles my way.

This is a matter of pure cussedness on my part. When people ask me if the steel rod in my shin sets off metal detectors, I like being able to answer truthfully "I don't know." (That's right; I haven't been through a metal detector since August of 2000.)

I love flying. I love airplanes. I loved it when my dad worked for Eastern when I was little and we flew a lot. I remember flying on a Delta L-1011 to see my grandparents; my first trip by myself, with a big book about commercial airliners open in my lap and chatting happily with the flight attendants and anyone else who'd listen about how cool this all was. I still have that book someplace, with my seat marked in yellow highlighter. I loved hanging out the window of a Cessna 172 with a camera back when I worked in aerial photography. I loved standing on the ramp and watching our 310s roar up the taxiway through fog so thick you could barely see their lights. I love planes. But I won't go to the airport anymore. Not with the farce that flying has become. Two-hour waits for a ninety-minute flight. Inane security procedures. I'll drive instead, because my car won't grope me or steal stuff from my luggage.


Hunsdon said...

Been saying it for years, Tam.

"They hate us because we're free."

Open question, of course, which "they" I'm talking about. People used to think I was talking about the terrace.

Frank W. James said...

Driving may take time, but I find I arrive in a much better overall mood at my distination and with my dignity still in tact.

Still, there are times I can't avoid the misery of the aluminum tube and NO, the skies aren't friendly. They have the seats so close together on all the carriers now that only someone the size of Danny DeVito can fit and ride in one comfortably.

A pox on all their houses.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

the pistolero said...

Perhaps I just got lucky the last time I flew. Houston to Louisville, 6:40 on a Sunday morning. If I remember right I got to the airport about 6:05, and 20 minutes later I was through the security screening and on the plane. My connecting flight and return didn't give me any more hassles than that. On the whole I'd say it was a surprisingly pleasant experience. But I know that's just mine, and those are just my observations.

Tam said...

I'm sure some Stalags treated prisoners better than others.

The fact of the matter is that the FAA and the airline industry act like they're doing me a goddam favor by transporting me anywhere.

Normally, when you give somebody as much as a thousand dollars or more to provide a specific service, you are considered to be a customer, not a supplicant. If a grocery store treated people the way the airlines do, it would be out of business in a week, and I dare say that we need the goods provided by Kroger worse than those provided by Delta.

Borepatch said...

Amen. I've flown WAY more than is good for me (maybe a million and a half miles). It's gotten so bad that I just don't want to fly any more.

#1 son was just talking about the road trip he and I took to bring our car up from Atlanta to Boston, and how we should do it again. There isn't any flight that comes close to being memorable that way.

One that *is* memorable is the time I flew with #2 son to see my folks, and he got wanded down. Shoes off. He was 4. Dostoyevsky would have recognized the petty bureaucracy.

Tam said...

Y'know what kills me?

I used to go to the airport for fun. I'd drive down to Hartsfield, ride the train between the concourses for a bit. Pick a concourse at random and wander down to one of the gates and press my nose against the glass to watch the dance on the ramp and the plane get pushed back...

Damn the bastards who've taken that from me. And don't tell me it was Achmed and Mohammed who took it away; it was the spineless politicians, career-minded bureaucrats and craven voters who immediately went into SNiVeL mode.

Dioscuri said...

But wait! Doesn't infringing on civil liberties make people safer? I mean, if we don't give all of our freedom to men in suits, the terrorists will take it away!


Les Jones said...

When you're in Norfolk be sure to sing the Norfolk High football fight song.

Norfolk! Norkfolk!
We don't drink!
We don't smoke!
Norfolk! Norfolk!

Anonymous said...

I noticed when I was buying shoes recently that they are now advertising "airport safe" shoes that won't set off detectors. Yeesh.

The last time I flew was when Beth and I took a vacation to Egypt. That was somewhat unavoidable. The only other vaguely likely trip I can think of that I might have to break down and fly is if I go visit an old friend in Seattle. That Nashville-Seattle commute is just a bit much.

Of course, I don't generally have to worry about being groped. Just stolen from.

Anonymous said...

TSA is a farce. I've put a lot of time into researching it. Some of it from a quasi professional viewpoint as a government scientist specializing in security.

Here are some of my conclusions:

Weapons on Passenger Planes
Airplane Passenger Screening Fails
What TSA really stands for

That last post apparently got the attention of the JTTF with me as a possible terrorist (ask me when face-to-face for the details).

That said I still fly at times. I just make a game of it and salt my stuff with components from my Boomershoot chemistry set and wear explosives and/or Boomershoot related clothing. Only once have I been stopped for explosives residue they "detected". That gun case hadn't been salted.

Jeffro said...

The 'rents took us flying a fair amount way back when, and it was great fun. Then, a bud and I rode the cattle cars to Vegas about ten years ago. Stuff from luggage was stolen even then.

Now, I too will drive, thank you very much. Security theater ain't my thang. I miss the drag strip qualities of takeoffs, and the roller coaster aspects of noise abatement procedures, but as for the rest? Bah.

the pistolero said...

If a grocery store treated people the way the airlines do, it would be out of business in a week
These days, I don't know about that. Somebody somewhere would be calling for a government bailout of the grocery store, reasons for its crash be damned. But I know that's neither here nor there. ;-)

Tam said...

Now you're just trying to depress me...

Anonymous said...

God, I hate flying, or rather the part between arriving at the airport and the takeoff. Between the morons at TSA and the evil "customer service" staff of the airlines, the experience is painful, humiliating, and infuriating.

I think the airlines have always hated coach flyers. I think they make more revenue from the frequent business class travelers that they get from the cattle class peasants in the rest of the plane. I believe 9/11 was a revelation for the airlines, because while they never shirked from inflicting abuse on paying customers, it never occurred to them to actually, you know, kill them. Too bad four planeloads of dead customers also meant four lost planes. Very expensive capital investements.

If I didn't have to fly for my job, I wouldn't do it at all. Anyone who flies for pleasure these days is a masochist.

Laura said...

i'm really not looking forward to my impending trip (less than a week away) specifically due to the form of travel.

the TSA has decided that we now need some sort of x-ray scanners for people. i'm THRILLED with the idea that not only will my nakedness be displayed to the jackholes running the machines, but those images will be stored indefinitely and in a format that's less secure than the public computers available at libraries.

this article discusses the new scanners, but conveniently leaves out the fact that no, passenger faces will not be blurred out, and per a friend of mine who works at BWI, names will be attached to the nudes walking through the scanners.

thanks, TSA, for making me feel like a victim. what's next, a gas "shower" with 200 of my closest friends?

Anonymous said...

And of course the best way for airlines to deal with the fact that more and more people are saying "Um, y'know, fuck this. I'd rather drive." is to jack up the rates and start nickel-and-diming folks to death like a bad used car salesman. $15 to check my first bag, $25 for the second? $2 for a coke that used to be free? No more in flight movie? Wow, it just looks better and better!

Laura said...

...ok, seconds after i made my previous, comment, i read this


Anonymous said...

I fly for a living and it's bad, but you know what irritates me the most?

Not the "security", I guess I can live with that, after all, I am getting into a plane with 200 strangers and ( if the security were any good, if the risk were appreciable) drammatically reducing the odds that some numpty can just walk on with a bomb, or a can of gasoline is something I can live with.

Mind you I think it might be done better with a couple of sniffer dogs amd sharp observers, but I digress.

What kills me is the insistance on "showing ID" like ID can't be faked trivially by someone who cares. Who gives a crap, security wise, who is on the plane? What they are carrying concerns me a little, who they are? Not. at. all. Until they arrest you for something, it's none of their business.

Don't get me started on customer service. Fees. Delayed and cancelled flights, Seats designed by Torquemada, etc...

Jenny said...

well, after your next fabulously profitable book deal comes out, you could just get a little Cessna or suchlike - problem solved, at least in the US. It won't fix everything, but it at least gets the TSA out of the picture.

That said.. I'm learning that the FAA makes the ATF look like paragons of liberty and common sense. If the FAA ran the roads, I'm convinced we'd still be using horse and buggy to get everywhere.

Tam said...

And you'd only be able to use certain brands of buggy whips with certain brands of buggies. And every time you re-wrapped the handle on your buggy whip, you'd need to get a chit signed off by a governemnt inspector. And God forbid you used a brand of buggy whip handle tape that wasn't on the approved list for your brand of buggy whip, or wrapped it in an un-approved fashion...

Zendo Deb said...

Since you haven't been flying lately, you might not know.... the skies suck just as bad as security theater.

I need to take a quick trip to FL. I have to fly, since I don't have the days to drive. I am dreading it.

Anonymous said...

Useless TSA cunts.

El Al has forgotten more about security than these clowns have ever learned.

You have the customer buy in advance, and sign a waiver to allow investigation. You investigate the customer, and talk to him. You check out his story. If he looks like a terrorist ( YES YOU PROFILE DAMMIT ), you refund him and apologize.

If you know ( completely ) the folks getting on the plane, then you don't need to disarm them.

As for the proper response to terrorist attacks ... my notions involve making the rubble bounce ... nation building my ass ... a proper response is one so dreadful people in later years will lynch on the spot anyone stupid enough to suggest attacking the US or its citizens.

Anonymous said...

Just got back from a 1250-mile (round trip) trip. Didn't even consider flying.

Cruise control + interstate highways + CD player make for a tranquil trip... until Senator Warner (And why do I bother to vote Republican?) drops the speed limit again.

Matt G said...

Last three plane rides I took, the pilot and two passengers all were wearing pistols (most had more than one), and long guns were in easy reach of the back seat passenger.

It's the only way to fly. :)

Anonymous said...

Are the seurity measures reducing air travel, more than the rising prices?? I thought it would I don't think Americans like being pushed around much. Same reason I don't like government buildings with there security, rude people acting like I am a criminal. Reduces the number of people who show up to complaine or observe government in action though. Who said "When the government dosn't trust the people, the people can't trust the government" might have been me.

The Duck said...

Well if you see a gold Crown Vic with a CCW bumber sticker, give me a wave, as I'm driving over also

Anonymous said...

I just got back from Denver last night and I am sure all the security folks must have had acid enemas before they went on duty.

The bit of flying I do I notice that every airport seems to have different procedures about when and how you pull your shoes and other crap off and they like to scold you like a kindergarten kid when you do it wrong.

Of course there was the idiot who took about five minutes looking at my Texas Drivers License and my boarding pass to make sure they were real. I started to give him my Concealed Hand Gun license but I did not want to spend an extra 30 minutes explaining it was a government issued photo ID.

I wonder when the last time any person in their 60's tried to hijack a plane, like never maybe.

Rob K said...

I also used to love to fly and go to the airport. Indianapolis had a nice observation deck on top of one of the concourses. You had to go through security to get to it. I wonder if it's still open.

Anonymous said...

Can you do a post on this?

TSA idioisy and firearms.