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[travel] Follies redux - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2012-07-24 05:08
Subject: [travel] Follies redux
Security: Public
Tags:child, personal, travel
Flying to North Carolina for Day Jobbery today. As is almost always the case, I am on the earliest possible departure. I woke up with a start a little after 3 am this morning, just slightly before my 3:15 am alarm. [info]the_child was just packing up to go to bed, having spent her evening watching anime on Netflix Streaming. It was weird, felt like a shift change.

Then when I opened my laptop up, I found she'd changed my desktop image.


Love that kid.

At the airport, the usual low-grade madness ensued. Stuck in the check-in line behind someone with a complicated problem who didn't seem to understand their own issues. (International traveler with a non-US passport who was quite confused about visa requirements. How did they get into the country in the first place?) Stuck in the security line behind someone who didn't seem to understand that the instructions to remove everything from your pockets meant that they, personally, had to remove all their personal things from their personal pockets. This traveler was sent back once for a handful of change, a second time for a set of keys, and a third time for a wallet.

In other words, business as usual for America's air transit system.

Which leads me to wonder what people are thinking. I recognize that most people are not regular air travelers. I understand that the system is confusing enough for expert, frequent travelers like me, and is likely baffling to newcomers or those who fly rarely. But there's a lot of effort spent explaining things in signage, in announcements, in instructions given by airport staff. Why wouldn't you follow a clear, simple instruction to empty your pockets? Why is it okay to delay the twenty or thirty people standing behind you while you reluctantly part with $0.38, a set of housekeys and a wallet. One at a time.

I know that the question of whether we should be taking off our shoes, et cetera, is a ridiculous one in its own right. I agree that we practice security theatre, not good security, and that this is not likely to change for purely political reasons. But given that this is the system we have, why do some people feel like they don't have to follow it?

Rant, rant, rant. I know. I'm not actually grumpy about this. More like mildly boggled.

Anyway, to the air with me now.

Post A Comment | 18 Comments | | Link

User: autopope
Date: 2012-07-24 12:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I feel your pain.

I don't fly as often as you, but I still make between 20 and 30 sectors a year, so 150-300 flights in the past decade. It gets to be routine. And the routine is usually the same every time at each airport! If your pockets are full of pocket lint you will get sent back and hold everything -- yourself included -- up. So why do they do it?

I can understand the parents with small children: they don't fly much, and trying to ride herd on hyperactive toddlers and a baby buggy at the metal detector would try the patience of a saint, even without jumping through the empty-your-pockets-and-take-your-shoes-off hoops on behalf of the kids. But the adult holidaymakers? You'd think by the time they reached their fifties they'd have worked it out ...
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mlerules: Brain
User: mlerules
Date: 2012-07-24 13:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Puts me in mind of a visit to the Portland Zoo's Butterfly Garden several years back. There were numerous large signs explaining how to get in and out w/out releasing any of the butterflies, yet they still had a person at a booth explaining it to people. I said yes, I understood because I had just read what was on the sign, and they seemed astonished. Apparently lots of people just don't bother reading signs, looking at pictograms, watching video presentations, or listening to the TSA agent telling 'em what to (and not to) do. Yeah, brain-boggling...

How very sweet re: your laptop's updated desktop image. :-)
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2012-07-24 22:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's an issue at your local public library, too. You can have the fanciest signage in the world, but 90% of people won't even see it because they're too busy thinking about other things. There've been studies on it in the library literature.
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User: autopope
Date: 2012-07-24 23:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When I fly, I carry a man-purse. And/or a jacket with pockets with zippers (to shovel loose change, cellphone, etc. into).

Millions, it would appear, don't.

The best thing about having a frequent flier card that lets me use priority security queues at some airports? The fact that the other people in the queue also have such cards, which you get by being a frequent flier, which means they know the score and are usually well-prepared. Absolutely priceless!
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Nicosian: scully rocket
User: nicosian
Date: 2012-07-24 13:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:scully rocket
I fly a lot, not as much as you, but enough. I've got it down to an art to whisk through security and time and time again, despite every sign, every warning, I'm always behind the person with shoes on,pockets full,belt on.

I just don't understand it. It seems to be the shoe thing to some degree, most non US flights don't require quite the strip-down at security. In china, they had people working the security line taking lighters ( its a thing!). So ok, people forget, but..still...

( the other half of it is most security lines I've been in elsewhere are relatively efficient but the TSA themselves seem to be oft working in some kind of fugue state. CHina, i got frisked when my boots set the alarm, but they were courteous and efficient and friendly and it wasn't a delay at all.)
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2012-07-24 13:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Just a quick question if you don't mind...my son now has to chill his meds (Humira, not insulin) in pen injector form...is there a good reference website for how to travel with refrigerated meds internationally? He says the insulin packets don't work because they're too small. And sharps disposal...
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2012-07-24 15:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you! I will pass this information on to my son.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2012-07-24 13:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, yeah, it is boggling, especially at the Portland airport where TSA goes Above and Beyond to help the novice traveler! That said, I got hit with a novice scanner the last time I flew. Said scanner forced me to pull out my tablet from my purse because he couldn't see through it (in my new travel purse, mind you, with a slot for the tablet). The old-timer who pulled it out just winked and said he'd have let it ride (while I was muttering "But I just got told NOT to pull that out--oh hey, is this a n00b? Because it's really annoying to have your guy in the next line over telling people NOT to pull out their tablets and then this guy is forcing me to wait in line and rescan because he's kicking a fuss over my tablet being in the purse").

So in Denver I pulled it out while going through Security. One TSA agent gave me the stink eye and I told him I'd been held up in PDX by a novice scanner who made me pull it out, so out it comes from now on.

And things weren't much better pre-security theater...I had a container full of jewelry once that pre-security theater security had to open and paw through. Clearly snooping as what caused the stop and look wasn't a threat but eyeballing the prettiest stuff. At the same airport a Discussion Ensued regarding my asthma rescue inhaler, which I'd argue. And did, until a more experienced scanner IDed it.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2012-07-24 13:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Your daughter is a total star.
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User: renesears
Date: 2012-07-24 13:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We flew my dad's ashes to Idaho last month. (We prepped ahead of time with a scannable box and paperwork from the funeral home.) THAT was a fun TSA stop. My sister and I got to stand next to my mom muttering "don't spill Dad, don't spill Dad."

In the end, the TSA agent who had to check it out was extremely sympathetic and hit the right note with my mom, so all was well.
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User: voidampersand
Date: 2012-07-24 15:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The only thing that is special about airport security theater is that it is asking large numbers of people to comply precisely with multiple instructions. People generally aren't good at reading, comprehending and following instructions. (On average, most people are mediocre.) But they are outstanding at rationalizing how their non-compliance really is proper and acceptable. This allows them to maintain their dignity and sense of self-worth regardless of the annoyances of the situation.

In other words, we are all characters in a Jack Vance story.
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MG Ellington
User: xjenavivex
Date: 2012-07-24 15:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One of the Best Desktop Message Surprises Ever

See you soonish.
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User: saveswhat
Date: 2012-07-24 22:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My complaint is that the rules are not consistent from airport to airport. In European airports, I'm not required to remove boots, but in PDX I'm required to remove flip flops. At SFO, they seem indifferent to electronics concealed in luggage, but in PDX they might ask you to turn on electronics as part of the theatre performance. In PDX I've been asked to remove the shoes from a sleeping infant. In Europe, they are fond of requiring all liquids to be kept in a ziploc baggie (of strict dimensions), but I've never been hassled about the lack of a ziploc in the U.S. Ever. The last time I went through security, I was required to exit security in order to empty <1 ounce of residual water that was in my aluminum water bottle. When I protested that it was clearly under the 2 ounce limit, I was told, "Yes it is, but you still need to exit and empty the bottle and no you can't drink it."

I think people hold up the line on purpose to increase the level of hostility that the people behind them might direct in the direction of the TSA.

Edited at 2012-07-24 10:26 pm (UTC)
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