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Flying The “Friendly” Skies November 22, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, Travel & Leisure.

Flying the friendly skies used to fill me with a sense of freedom and empowerment:

* My first flight (age 17) transported me from New Jersey to Paris with the High School French Club.  In the City of Lights, I celebrated being liberated from my parents for the first time . . . and of legal drinking age to boot!

* My second flight (age 22) whisked me from Virginia in the middle of a blizzard to St. Thomas.  Freedom enveloped me as I stepped off the plane  into the warm island sun.

Although subsequent flights did not result in the same degree of “magical transformation” I experienced on those flights, the speed of air travel remained empowering.

Now, with the new TSA restrictions and screening procedures, the prospect of flying seems more like an ordeal to endure than an experience to savor.

If you want to fly the “friendly” skies, TSA security agents may require you to remove more than your shoes:

* Rather than just kicking off your shoes and walking through a metal detector, you may be stripped, ogled,  searched, man-handled, and probed.

* The full body scanners now in use provide “intimate details” about your  body to security personnel.  When you pass through airport body scanners, you will have a stranger in a remote room looking at you naked.

* If you refuse the full body scan, you are subject to a thorough pat-down before boarding ~ women have complained that the force of inner thigh searches has lifted them airborne before they’ve even boarded the plane.

* In conducting its comprehensive searches of persons, pockets, and packages, the TSA forced one nursing mother to drink her own breast milk to prove it did not contain “tools of terrorism.”

If the TSA does not relent in its decision to treat ALL passengers as potential terrorists, either the A.C.L.U. will need to hire more attorneys to handle the  egregious violations of our civil liberties, or we will have to stop pretending to be the “home of the FREE and the brave.”

Once in the air, your freedom may be further constrained.  At the crew’s discretion, passengers may be required to remain seated during the last hour ~ which means NO last minute trips to the bathroom.

If you have anyone “suspicious” on your flight, be cautious when the flight attendant comes around to offer you a refill on your beverage, think twice before handing her your glass if you have an overactive or weak bladder.

During the last hour, passengers may be prohibited from accessing their carry-on luggage or having any items (including electronic devices) on their laps.  The captain and crew are authorized to remove blankets, ban opening overhead bins, and may order passengers to stay in their seats with their hands in plain sight.

Twiddling of thumbs MAY be grounds for disciplinary action!!!

Passengers, especially parents with small children, may feel like virtual prisoners during that last hour since the TSA safety rules may preclude last minute diaper changes, or reaching into carry-on luggage for snacks, gum, or games to entertain the kiddies.

DaodeTianzunIf you don’t already practice meditation, take it up.  Focusing on your breath will:

* Keep you calm and reduce anxiety during the flight.

* Give you something to do during the last sixty minutes.

* Help you  tune out cranky kids (of all ages) whining about enhanced security precautions while aromas from soiled diapers permeate the cabin air.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Supergovernment, or Where’s My Kryptonite? * TSA Addendum



1. Posky - November 22, 2010

I’ve been back and forth across the country a few times and I will ONLY fly if it is going to save me money and over a day’s travel. I hate how much airport security is beefed up. I hate how going through security makes me feel like I’m being placed into some futuristic prison.

I am willing to risk my life so that I have some control over it. Security was improved but has recently gotten well out of hand. 9/11 was a tragedy but the whole point of all of that “not letting the terrorists win” talk was to encourage people to not be scared out of doing things.

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

Excellent points.

At the moment, I am more terrified by the calculated erosion of our civil liberties and freedom than I am by random acts of terrorism.

2. Joanne - November 22, 2010

Tell me about it…!
My first flight was at age 17 — summer cultural exchange student to Germany… same as you — freedom from parental rule…

At age 23 to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with two small children to visit husband’s family.

Later, in 1987, to Germany again with my parents and daughter this time.

In 1988, to the Philippines for a music outreach with our church.

In 1993, back to Germany for a 20-year reunion with my host family.

In 2003, to Upstate NY for my daughter’s graduation… That was the wild card… because it was after 9/11, and I was lucky passenger #…? to be pulled from the line for questioning and to have my shoes examined and me detained until they determined I was not a terrorist making bombs in my Italian relatives’ garage…! I guess it was the chemicals in the fertilizer on the grass I stepped on at a family picnic… Talk about feeling singled out… maybe because I’ve been taken for Indian, too.

I did go to Amsterdam and germany again in 2007, but things seemed a little more lax to me than right after 9/11… Or maybe I was just getting used to the routine.

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

At this point, I plan to avoid flying the unfriendly skies.

3. Chad - November 22, 2010

Is it worse than it was one year ago? Last September I flew and it was just fine, I didn’t feel the security was too much.
Be glad you’re not a young, Arabic male…

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

The scanners are new this year. Not sure how new. The problem is that the scans can’t detect items concealed in body cavities or in folds of flesh. The technology can be evaded relatively easily by actual terrorists.

In short, it’s a money-making invasion of privacy which terrorists can easily circumvent.

4. nancycurteman - November 22, 2010

I flew to Paris in September and did not experience much inconvenience. I guess security has really tightened up. I have mixed feelings about the standards. On the one hand, I think it might be invasive. On the other hand, I’d hate to be a victim of a terrorist.

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

We all would. But terrorists can pass through the body scans with items concealed in their folds of flesh or in body cavities.

The TSA is designed to give the illusion of security, without necessarily making it any safer to fly.

And in return we are giving up significant aspects of our right to privacy.

5. Patricia - November 22, 2010

If someone cannot change their baby’s diaper then said baby should be taken to the cockpit and left with the pilots for the last hour…

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

That’s hysterical!

But do we really want the pilots passing out from diaper fumes while our lives are in the balance?

Maybe make the co-pilot sit in the lavatory with the baby and the offending diaper. 🙂

6. Maggie - November 22, 2010

I flew twice in my life (once when I was six months old, so I don’t remember it), the last time being in 2008 – I don’t remember airport security being that crazy then. I just had to take off my shoes and some jewelry.

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

I’ve flown twice since 9/11 ~ in 2003 and 2007. Both times, I just kicked off my sandals and went through the metal detector.

But I don’t know if I will fly again. I don’t like the idea of the full body scans or the pat downs.

I don’t want to be treated like a potential terrorist by my own country.

duke1959 - November 22, 2010

The thing is in the worst case of an attack on an airline maybe a few hundred would lose their lives. That by no means is a laughing matter but on the other hand there were over 16,000 murders in this country last year. OOOPS! The real reality is that this culture is so open and so spread out that if someone really wants to cause panic they do not need to blow up a plane. Its like your home. If someone really wants to break into your house they are going to and you are not going to stop it.

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

I agree with you, and am truly concerned at the direction this country is headed:

* Reporters banned from reporting on the Oil Spill and threatened with arrest for taking photos of the devastation.

* TSA “checkpoints” at airports with body searches and pat downs.

What next?

Full body scanners in courthouses, banks, bus depots, and train stations?

7. Booksphotographsandartwork - November 22, 2010

The first time I flew I was three going to France, don’t remember it. The second time I flew I was six coming back to America from France, don’t remember that time either! I have not flown since and don’t plan too. I wish I was brave enough but I am not. And now it would just be a major aggravation.

I sure would hate to go through the patdown if I looked like the girl in the clipart!

And I would not like for my young children or teenagers to go through it. Thats just wrong.

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

I’m grounded for the foreseeable future. There is nowhere I want to go badly enough to put up with the TSA.

8. Booksphotographsandartwork - November 22, 2010

You know I really feel bad for the workers themselves. Look at what they have to do, what they have to put up with. They are just doing the job that puts food on the table and clothes on their kids. They aren’t the ones who made the rules they just have to follow them.

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

True. Let’s hope they don’t abuse the power entrusted to them.

9. jannatwrites - November 22, 2010

As pleasant as this sounds, I’m so glad I’m not flying for Thanksgiving 🙂

nrhatch - November 22, 2010

Me too! We watched several shows on the TSA procedures, and the complaints of passengers who felt violated by the pat-downs.

At the moment, neither one of us wants to fly.

10. Rev. Caritas - November 23, 2010

Did you hear about the woman who was told she had to remove her prosthetic breast in order to prove it was not dangerous? She had just recovered (physically anyway) from breast cancer. If this had happened to my own mother, they would have been forced to detain me, or worse.

I thought about the food restrictions- because surely I would not be able to bring anything from my special, limited, diet on the plane.

This is nothing new, certainly. But I am VERY relieved it is making headlines now.

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

It seems to be getting worse now that they switched to the full body scanners.

Government intrusion into our private parts is NOT a step in the right direction if we want to remain a free and independent people.

11. duke1959 - November 23, 2010

I was watching Morning Joe on MSNBC this morning and they were acting like it is no big deal. I’m one of those who never trust the government when they talk about its no big deal. The truth is 9/11 and all of its horror wasn’t the worst thing in American History.

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

It is a BIG deal. It is a VERY BIG deal.

The government is eroding our freedoms and we are standing on the runway watching it happen.

The government has convinced the masses that it is “protecting” US from THEM ~ but, from my perspective, it is harming WE THE PEOPLE in the process.

Thanks for sharing this post on your blog.

12. Greg Camp - November 23, 2010

Yup, I’ve known for a long time that I have no business trying to get on an airplane in this country. I don’t plan to blow anything up, but idiocy brings out the worst in me.

It’s too bad, of course, since flying is something that I enjoy doing. I suppose that I’ll just have to wait for the flying car that we’ve been promised.

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

Good plan.

If enough of us STOP FLYING the unfriendly skies, the airlines will put pressure on the government to tell the TSA to mind its OWN BUSINESS!

And we know that, while politicians ignore WE THE PEOPLE, they listen to the LOBBYISTS.

13. duke1959 - November 23, 2010

no problem. anything to help the cause.

14. Cindy - November 24, 2010

Yikes 😦

nrhatch - November 24, 2010

On FOX News tonight, the TSA protocols were UNDER FIRE! Loved it.

There are other ways to make flying safer without FRISKING grandmothers and GROPING crotches.

I am anxious to see what happens tomorrow at our airports.

Two million scheduled fliers standing up for their right to privacy could create quite an interesting scene . . .

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