Now, I am not one of those people who romanticizes air-travel in the past. You know the folk who remember when “flying was fun.” When was that? You mean when Orville and Wilbur were your pilots? Flying has always been stressful. I think mostly because humans aren’t supposed to be in the sky.
That aside, the airline companies and the FAA are both way out of control. I simply don’t believe that airlines can’t be profitable. Air traffic today is greater than pre 9-11, so they can’t hide behind that anymore.
If they are really so financially strapped, it is time to nationalize them and get rid of private business all together. No more corporate welfare for these corrupt companies. The CEO’s of these allegedly failing businesses make more money than Puerto Rico’s annual budget. I never obtained an MBA, but if a company is losing money, that might be the first place to cut some corners.
Instead, though, they cut services left and right. On all of my flights, I had the option to buy a “snack” (stale cookies or staler pretzels) for $2. These weren’t bargain-basement airlines, either. If you fly Jet-Blue or Ryan Air, you expect such things because you paid $18 for your ticket. A “full-service” airline, though? Exactly what is the “full” part of that service? Does not burning us with lye now count as “full service?”
Northwest had the even more astounding policy of charging an additional fee for certain seats in the plane, like the exit rows. Being an “elite” member of the frequent-flyer program (soon to expire – gasp), I could opt for these seats as well. So, basically the airlines are creating a class-hierarchy within the coach cabin. Passengers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your roller-bags.
Keep in mind that airline fares are peculiar as a service because you and the person next to you might have paid radically different prices for the exact same ticket. Can you imagine going to a barber and paying $10 more than the person who came before you for the same haircut? Or being charged a fee for that haircut, but finding out that the barber had “oversold” his time? We accept these policies, however, as necessary for airlines.
I remember, in the mid-nineties, Congress and President Clinton threatened legislation (dubbed the “Passenger Bill of Rights”) that would have required airlines to treat their passengers as slightly more than cattle. Oh, how the airlines protested! While under that threat, however, somehow they managed to improve! Once that fear went away, the airlines went right back to business as usual.
Of course, nationalizing the airlines would just put them in the same hands as the people who are already bungling security. Yes, we all want a safe and secure air-transport system. That doesn’t mean, however, that being reactionary makes us safe. Instead of addressing the economic inequalities that fuel terrorism across the globe, our government has decided that they can magically prevent all terrorism. Okay, I am particularly annoyed by the 1-1-3 rules.
For those who haven’t flown recently, you may not know the meaning of 1-1-3. If you have flown, then you have heard the same announcement over and over every ten minutes. Every (1) passenger is allowed a one(1)-quart zipper-topped bag of liquids or gels no greater than three (3) ounces. This rule emerged as a compromise from the briefly enacted 1-0-0 policy. Some law enforcement agencies in Britain uncovered a potential plot to destroy an aircraft by mixing an explosive cocktail on-board. As a result, they panicked and made an impossible policy.
Now, I am no explosives expert, but it seems to me that a clever person determined on bringing down an aircraft would be able to accomplish his goals with certain materials less than three ounces. Or, potentially, they could have several people bring on-board dangerous liquids, in three ounce sizes, that would amount to the necessary amount.
So, it seems to me, that the 1-1-3 rule is all glitter and no glam. We are as unsafe as ever. The airline safety authorities, however, want to look like they are doing something to make us safe. If we feel inconvenienced, they figure, then they must be on top of things.
It’s just like the deal with the shoes. Do we even remember why they started the shoe thing? FOUR years ago, a single (one) loser named Richard Reid unsuccessfully tried to make his shoes into a flaming weapon. Apparently Reid figured he could combine his contempt for human life with all those episodes of Get Smart that he watched in his parents’ basement.
The 29-year-old’s pyromania hardly appeared the most successful or imitated form of terrorism. Yet, domestic flights now require that we all have some stocking-feet time before boarding. That way the technician can ignore images of our shoes as much as they ignore images of our carry-on baggage. Yeah, that solves the terrorism problem.
Oh, and by the way, Richard Reid had a fuse sticking out of his shoes when he went through security. Did security really need him to take them off for the x-ray to figure out his plans? I mean, I haven’t heard of Nike marketing their new cross-trainer with built in fast-burning-flint.
Maybe I am just bitter because I am a nervous flyer. Nothing like being all twitchy to raise a few eyebrows as you head towards the metal detector. Combine that with my goatee and gravitas and I become the perfect target for airport screening. By the time I get through security, all I have left on my body is my strategically placed one-quart zipper-top bag.
One day, it will eventually come to this:
Security Guard: Do you have liquids, aerosols, or gels?
Security Guard: What’s that in your mouth?
Security Guard: It better be less than three ounces. We scanned your brief case and saw a 32 inch flat coil with a metal end.
Me: You mean my belt? You made me take it off before I went through the line. Remember?
Security Guard: A belt? Didn’t Richard Reid wear a belt? Get him!
I have a solution that solves all of these problems. With one simple policy change, I can resolve security concerns, the airlines’ lack of services, and my own flying anxieties.
Instead of harassing us and pretending like they can tell the .0005% terrorists from the rest of the flying public, just drug everybody before boarding. Put us all into a chemical-induced coma before the plane even leaves the ground. We can just sleep through the whole flight. With enough drugs, we won’t even notice the lack of a complimentary beverage service. If a terrorist happened to sneak aboard, he will feel just too darn good to commit any evil acts. It’s win-win.
We can implement this plan immediately. Between the liquor and Xanax I take to fly, I have been single-handedly field testing this program for years.