August 22, 2002

MINETA IMPEACHMENT UPDATE: I’ve gotten a flood (er, a bigger flood than usual) of email in response to my FoxNews column on airport security. Here are some excerpts:

As a frequent business traveler, I recently informed Continental Airlines that their harassment was so pervasive, that I had increased my drive-to cutoff time to 12 hours.

Their response ‘It’s not our fault – complain to the TSA’.

My response ‘Who will keep Continental afloat when the business traveler quits flying?’

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I refuse to fly. I refuse to be humiliated by those stupid, arrogant punks that call themselves “airport security”.

If official TDY (temporary duty) comes along, I take leave or get permissive TDY to drive or use other conveyance. (BTW, it saves the taxpayers a ton of $$$ by driving.) . . .

I truly hope that every airline goes belly up and puts every airport screener and other scumbag doofus out on the street.

Security should be geared to check for two things: fire arms and bombs. And we ain’t checking for bombs! I will gladly take my chances with a nail file wielding lunatic than put up with this insanity called airport security.

I didn’t think I could laugh so much over anything to do with airport security but “The revenge of the tweezers people” is perfect. I fly at least once a month (this summer has been every week). You need to add one more category to the people randomly chosen to be searched – blonde, petite ( and harmless), American women who would never dare to wear an under bra! I’m really sick of it. I’m normally nice to people but I make no effort to be with the stupidity of the system I see.

Airport security is a bone-headed charade that irritates all and protects none. Lord knows we need protection from 85-year old grandmothers and explosive breast milk! Any frequent traveler, as myself, has learned to avoid the screening. To me the absurdity was a recent flight where two volunteers were asked to submit to the “random” security check to expedite the boarding process.

I have to travel every week and it always by air, that works out to about a 100,000 miles a year. You are right about “security”, it is a joke. If I did not have to fly I sure would not, it is just not worth the hassle. I feel that is going to take another major incident before we have real security at our airports.

I could not agree more with the premise of your article. I recently was camping with a pilot for American Airlines. He described how even the pilots think the new rules are a travesty, making passengers more irritated during the flights and doing nothing to enhance aircraft security. Bolt the cockpit doors and give pilots guns, that will give any hijacker incentive to look for other targets.

Great article and right on the money. It’s interesting how the media continues to say that airline travel is declining because people are “afraid to fly,” when in reality, people love to fly, they just hate being treated as suspected criminals in the process.

Thank you for your article. I am a diabetic and I must carry my supplies syringes) with me and it creates a problem with security that has cost me missing several flights. Now I avoid taking a plane if I can. Americans are not afraid of airplanes, but we are afraid of airports.

Of course, there was one anonymous reader who didn’t like the column:

It seems inconceivable that a professional educator would write an article with so little factual research and so many of the usual cliches of carping critics of security.

Give it up, Norm. I know it’s you. . . .

There’s a political issue here for somebody, folks.

UPDATE: Oh, and several people have written to say that the Barnum quote in my column actually comes from H.L. Mencken. I had a source quoting Barnum, but he’s quoted for lots of things he never said (that’s why I said “supposedly”), so that’s probably right. Oh, and Gary Leff is getting email, too.

To those (well, the plural isn’t obviously appropriate, but. . .) who say I’m wrong about this: show me the evidence that travellers are happy and think this stuff makes ’em safer. I haven’t seen any.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The mail keeps pouring in. Here’s one that sums up the airlines’ business problems:

I am a mid-level manager at a major company. I presently hold Platinum Elite with Continental Airlines and am a life member of American Airlines. I presently have 292,000 miles with Continental and 56,000 with AA. These miles were accumulated in 2001. In 2002, I have 12,000 with Continental and 0 with AA. I only fly when ABSOLUTELY necessary. The hassles and inconveniences are not worth it.

On my last three flights I have been wanded and shoed, my bags were smell tested and I was asked to remove belts, coats and buckles. The final indignity was when the soles of my shoes were bent so far back that the sole broke. The SS officer there said the shoes were WEAK.

Now you know why we have installed 14 additional ISDN lines for Video Conferencing. Those twice monthly business trips to and from the East Coast have been reduced to 2 trips per year. The short hops between LA and San Jose have become family excursions which only take 5 hours to drive. They take 3 hours to fly, not counting the rental car hassles at all major airports. Mr. Mineta and the airlines better come up with a solution to this problem.

As another reader says, the security’s bad enough, but the airlines don’t try to make it up to you in other ways. They seem to think you owe it to them to be their customer.

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