Thursday, November 18, 2010

Airport Security Madness

Air travel sucks. Airports are always located way too far from anything, unless you're some sad sack living in outer Queens or Dulles, so it always takes forever to get there. Planes are overly fragile, so flights often get delayed or cancelled due to rain (though most pilots will tell you that a plan can get struck by lightning repeatedly and still fly just fine). And now airport security has reached new levels of ridiculous crapulence so you have a great combination of having to leave early to drive extra far to get to the airport extra early to get through security just in time to wait extra hours for your delayed flight. Add flight time and travel from your destination airport to your destination--providing you don't prefer to just hang out near the airport at your destination!--and you basically save no time flying instead of driving for any flight that isn't cross-country.

Some of these problems can't be solved--airports always have to be far out from cities, since they take up too much land, and flights will always be delayed until some airline establishes "do you feel lucky" flights where people can knowingly accept a riskier flight if it means taking off on time. But airport security--what can possibly be done to make us safe from all those terrorists trying to set their shoes or underwear on fire on our planes?

To that I'd say--what really needs to be done there? Both of those plots were foiled easily, because last I checked you're not even allowed to smoke on the plane so surely anyone whipping out a lighter and trying to have a go at their clothing is going to attract immediate suspicion. It seems anyone wanting to blow up a plane would have an easier time bribing an underpaid baggage handler to let a suitcase full of bombs get past the metal detectors and detonate in the hold. In this day and age there's pretty much no way to get up to no good in the cabin.

Of course, some incompetents like Richard Reid will try to sneak a shoe bomb onto the plane from time to time. In which case I think an adequate punishment would be forcing him to spend the rest of his life inspecting passengers' smelly shoes at the security checkpoint, followed by a flight wedged in between two obese passengers with a screaming baby in front and behind. Film it for a reality show, and you'll have all the deterrant you need for any future bombers.

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