Photo-A-Day #493 08/14/06

I am in PA today. I took my first flight since the new security measures were enacted on August 10th. And to tell you the truth it wasn’t too bad, for me anyway. And why was it better for me than for other passengers. I planned ahead and I followed the new security restrictions. I made the decision to remove all of my liquids and banned items so that I could take a carry on with me. And I checked in online. You see, I need to be mobile with my travel schedule. If a flight is cancelled or delayed I need to quickly get on another flight. I can do that only as long as I have my bags with me. If the bags are in the bottom of the plane then I am SOL.

So now what should I do about my essential toiletries that I left at home? Well when I got to the hotel I asked if they had any complimentary toiletries and they were very nice and found me some toothpaste. Then I went to Target and got some hairspray because they only had that and no hair gel. I will have to leave both of those items behind when I leave tomorrow. What to do about shaving? For the first time in about 15 years I now have an electric razor. I decided upon getting an electric razor because at least I don’t have to worry about bringing anything but that item with me. I can’t keep buying shaving cream or shave gel only to throw it out after one use. I feel bad enough about the toothpaste and the hairspray/gel. Some weeks I go to three separate places and I will have to find toothpaste and hair product at each one. I may shave my head and get some brush-ups for my trips if it comes to that. I’m not getting reimbursed for these items and it is very wasteful.

I am not saying that the newly imposed restrictions are wrong, in fact they make a lot of sense. Anyone who has watched movies knows of many ways to get creative with explosives. The problem is that we are always one step behind what these lunatics are cooking up. We need to be more proactive and be smarter about our air travel to make it safer.

I am all for restrictions to keep us safe. But the government and the airlines and the TSA have to put procedures and technology in place to move the lines along quickly and keep us safe at the same time. As it is I get to the airlines 2 hours before my flight. I check-in online to avoid the check-in line where people still can’t work the self check-in kiosks.

Had I stood in line with my bags to check-in and then stood in line for security for those bags and then stood in line for security to get to my gate I would have just barely made my flight. That is ridiculous.

What I envision for the future of air travel is a very Jetsons-like experience. You enter the airport. If you have your travel documents you go right to a lane where you insert your ID, and boarding pass into a machine like you would insert an ATM card then you move to the next station. Those who have to still check-in can do so with a living breathing person or if they can work an ATM they can use self service check-in and then they can move along to the next station. At the next station you will put all of your luggage onto a conveyor belt and step onto a moving walkway facing sideways. Security officials using technology that can X-ray a person to see if they have any dangerous materials will screen you. Face recognition software will also scan your ID and your face and check it against the terrorist watch list. There should be only one standard set of carry on bags. They should fit the overhead compartment wheels first. While on the conveyor belt bags will be size checked and if they do not meet requirements they will be automatically tagged and sent as checked baggage to your destination. No more people sneaking on bags that are too dang big for the overheads. At the end of the conveyor belt you will collect your boarding passes and ID and your carry on items and be on your way. This is a rough idea of what I see happening and I am sure I have missed all bunches of problems with my scenario. Oh well they are just musings of my mind.

Despite my preparedness I had my bag searched anyway. I am sure I have said this before but I am totally prepared in the security line, shoes are off, computer is out, belt is off, everything out of the pockets and I always have my boarding pass and ID out and available for the agents. And I get searched a lot.

I took a picture of some of the items I have with me right now, can you guess which ones cannot go with me tomorrow?

I’ll give you a hint.
These are the contraband items.

Tomorrow should be fun. I have to demo till 12:00pm, drive 45 minutes to the PHL airport, gas up and drop off the rental car, catch the shuttle to the gate and catch a 2:45 flight to DFW and then to Tulsa. I hope I can make it. It didn’t look good for me to check in on-line earlier today. I’ll try again.

Update: I am still reading Kathy Reich’s Death Du Jour and I found a comic book store here that had Wildcats: Nemesis #3 so I can finally read that series (Nine issues, will most like become a trade paperback before I read them).

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