Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Airport security is a loathsome thing

The current level of airport security makes going to the airport a miserable experience. Once upon a time, you could see somebody off at the gate, waiting until the plane actually arrives and is ready to be boarded to say your final goodbyes. You could meet somebody at the gate, such that moments after the plane comes to a stop, travellers get to hug and greet the people they love and miss.

Now, if I see a friend to the airport, we have to arrive early to deal with security. We have to say goodbye at the security line, an ugly, crowded place where surly people with guns glare at everyone and order people around imperiously. Then the traveller, after dealing with the hassles of taking off shoes, being frisked, having luggage dumped out and/or rifled through, wanders to the gate and waits alone until the plane is ready to board. What was once a social experience has become a solitary one.

Now the meeting somebody on arrival scenario - if you go to the gate to meet somebody, you know when their plane has arrived because you SEE it arrive! But if you have to wait at security, you never know. It's one false hope after another as random groups of passengers from random planes show up. You might miss them, they might miss you. And again, we're talking about a place of inadequate seating, inadequate light, and surly guards.

Then there's the waiting thing. I hate waiting in airports - my ideal is to arrive at the gate fifteen minutes before the flight leaves. I've often been the last person on the plane. But now it doesn't matter how much time I leave for a departure or connection, there's a high degree of stress associated with the unavoidable possibility that I might miss the flight due to security taking too long. Security doesn't /care/ if I miss my flight.

I want to fly on an airline that has no security at all. I would pay extra for the right to just walk on the plane without being hassled, knowing my fellow passengers had done the same. I hate hate hate that I'm being charged extra for the privilege of having these goons perform searches that slow the boarding process and provide - let's be real about this - no additional safety whatsoever.

Hey, remember when they didn't check IDs three times before boarding because they didn't care if people resold tickets or passed them off to friends, family, or fellow employees? Those were the days...


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