Because the US travel ban needed to get worse

If you’re an American, you already know that people around the world either hate us or think we’re just plain stupid.  Then again, let’s see what happens in France this weekend, and we’ll see if we get a pass.

Anyway, so there’s now a ban on anything larger than a cellphone traveling in the cabin of any airliner coming to the United States from 10 different Arabic countries.  The UK has decided to jump on that bandwagon as well.  But now, just about a month later, someone in charge was wondering, “So how do we make travel even more unbearable?”  And even though we thought it couldn’t be done – it’s one of those Ronco, “But Wait! There’s More!” moments.

Now it looks like you won’t be able to travel with anything larger than a cellphone even from European countries.  Seriously.

Think about it.  A five, ten, fifteen hour trip with just your cellphone.  No iPad, no Samsung Note, no portable DVD player.  And as you’re taxiing away from the gate, you hear, “We’re sorry, but Chief Purser Gopher just deleted all in-flight entertainment.  But somewhere we’ve got a VHS copy of Biodome with Pauly Shore somewhere,” screamed from the overhead.  Won’t that be great?

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Dear Idiot, Welcome to Jail

I can’t believe this kind of thing still happens these days!

So some brilliant man decides to joke about having a bomb in his bag when he goes to check into his flight at Anchorage International late Saturday night.  Well, really his friend’s bag – but still.  And he said he was “joking” and “flirting”.

Seriously, you simpleton?  That’s just…  Well, for lack of a better word, stupid.

What’s better, this guy’s an umpire – so you know he’s used to making quick decisions.  And this one was a bad one.  Seriously.  What’s worse?  This guy isn’t allowed to leave Alaska, because he’s a flight risk.

Okay, so that’s a little overboard.  But still.

Totally reminds me of yelling at the private security firm that’s at the MCI (Kansas City) airport as I was passing through security a few years back when two of the officers, who were working the baggage x-ray machine, were “joking” about planes crashing and exploding.  Seriously.  Except they got to keep their jobs, whereas this dillhole in Alaska’s stuck until his hearing.

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Paying Our Respects

I originally posted something similar to this over at CatastropheCast.com, but thought it should go here as well…

I’m not only a regular business traveler, but I’m an airline geek as well.  I have been my whole life; when other 7 or 8 year olds wanted to be astronauts and firemen, I wanted to be an NTSB aircraft crash investigator.  Seriously.

But I digress.

There’s something to be said about paying proper respect to those that deserve it.  It’s something nice, but doesn’t get done that often.  For example, did you know that one of the most horrific, largest loss of life airplane crashes on United States soil was American Airlines Flight 191, a DC10 that crashed in Chicago back in 1979?  There were 273 souls lost in that crash.  But as for a monument or memorial for these people?  It didn’t happen.  Not until a group of schoolkids got together and did a 2 year project, raising funds for it.  The memorial didn’t officially exist until 2011.

Another noteworthy crash, the crash of Continental Airlines flight 11, en route from Chicago to Kansas City to Los Angeles, happened in 1962.  The crash is noteworthy because it was the first time a jet (not turboprop) plane was brought down as an act of terrorism; a man bought a life insurance policy and then blew up the plane with 6 sticks of dynamite, the result of which started the era of passenger screening that we all yammer on about to this day.  But that crash didn’t have any type of memorial, either.  Not until fifty years later, when 100 people – including the surviving family members of victims and other townsfolk – gathered in Unionville, Missouri, and dedicated the memorial on May, 2012 on the 50th anniversary of the crash.

We owe these people something.  Something more than they’ve gotten.  For every significant crash (and where possible), these people shouldn’t be forgotten to history.  They should be honored, because their lives were not lost in vain; their lives, and the subsequent loss, has reshaped all of our histories.

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Backscatter Machine Information

This is pretty incredible.  Mashable.com took on “The Science Behind Airport Body Scanners” and did a pretty good job at explaining them.  It’s a pretty damned good article, and you should read it.  But if you only read one sentence, it’s this:

No conclusive studies have been conducted that confirm that backscatter X-ray security scanners are safe for commercial use.

That right there is reason enough for the traveling public to demand that these dangerous machines be shut down and removed from use.  Never mind the privacy concerns.  Never mind anything else.  These X-ray backscatter systems have not been proven to be safe for the traveling public, and put us all at risk!  The group EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) has sued the TSA to stop these machines from being used.  Maybe we should all get behind them – forcefully!

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Security is a JOKE

With all the headlines going on about security, invasive TSA pat-downs (where a lesbian friend of mine has commented she’s had her labia touched – TWICE), and the like, what exactly is this getting us?  Where are we, as a nation, going?  Are we any safer?  I think the words you’re looking for are “HELL” and “NO”.

Not only is it getting worse, it’s getting noticeably worse.  Case in point?  Two separate incidents that I personally have witnessed over the last couple of weeks has led to three different people running out onto the taxiway of the Wenatchee Pangborn Field airport.  Yes, this is a small field, with commuter service.  But isn’t that all anyone needs?  You get access to a larger plane (a Bombardier Q400) and you can pose a threat to just about any building, large or small.  And if you wanted a larger plane, then hell – you can land at a larger airport and use your plane to commandeer another one.

Two weeks ago it was two kids that ran out through the double-door exit onto the taxiway to meet their parents.  Today, I was almost knocked down by a 50 year old lady who ran through the same double-doors and out onto the taxiway to meet someone.  Can you imagine what a couple of armed goons could do?  And how is it we still don’t double-check every piece of cargo that goes in the belly of the planes we ride in?  Too expensive?  Bullshit.

We have the illusion of security going through to catch our flights.  The TSA isn’t going to do anything serious about it unless we, as the traveling public demand it.  They’ll simply continue to jump at the latest hotspot and make us put something else on the conveyor belt when we go through the magnetometer.  It’s pathetic.

UPDATE: I just talked to someone at Pangborn Field (Wenatchee).  They weren’t aware that anyone had breached the exit out onto the runway, though they’ve had that concern.  TSA isn’t going to do anything about it.  Why?  They’ll require Pangborn to manage the exit, not TSA, for whatever stupid TSA reason the TSA can cite.  Again, I say, SECURITY IS A JOKE.

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Guess what the TSA has been doing?

Okay, not the entire TSA, but one TSA officer.  One really, really, really stupid TSA officer.  While he was supposed to be working as a “bomb appraisal officer”, he decided to pull pranks on travelers as they came through security.  Seriously.  Example:

As one passenger gathered their belongings (which had just emerged from an X-ray machine), the TSA worker displayed a “small vial of white powder” and asked, “Did this come out of your bag?” When the passenger replied, “No,” the officer asked, “Are you sure?” The traveler, according to a TSA memo, said, “Yea, I’m pretty sure,” and began to laugh. “Okay, just wanted to make sure. Have a nice flight,” the officer replied.

Seriously, WTF dude?  Are you that stupid?  Yeah, I suppose you are.  At least it’s not as bad as the time I went through TSA at Burbank Airport with Scary Spice behind me — and half the TSA staff abandoned their posts to fawn all over her.

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What if there was a security breach at an airport, but TSA didn’t care?

Just happened right in front of me here at GRR (Grand Rapids Airport). Interesting.  Actually, not interesting.  Maddening is more like it.

Me: Um, there’s a guy that just walked up the “exit only” area.
TSA Agent: I wouldn’t worry about it. Probably just one of us.
Me: No, he had a bag. He’s a traveler. Turn around – he’s right THERE.
TSA Agent: Don’t worry about it.
Me: WTF?

After I got through security, I walked the terminal, and found the guy.  He was sitting with his bag at a window, waiting for his flight.  No sense in telling the TSA – they have already showed that they could not care less.

At least it’s Thursday!

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