Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave Congress an ultimatum today:
Come to an agreement on federal spending or passengers will soon have to wait up to three hours in line just to board a plane.
And earlier this week an organization of travel industry executives “warned” us that our travel nightmare would only be beginning if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) do not get their money.
You heard them right: Give us our money, or the passengers get it!
Yes, it seems that Secretary LaHood and even travel industry leaders are intent on taking out their woes on the flying public if automatic spending cuts (the “sequestration” you may have heard about) whittles away even a portion of the budgets of the federal agencies which manage our air traffic controllers and TSA security officers.
As reported in USA Today Feb. 19, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts is likely if Congress and the President do not reach a compromise by March 1.
“This truly could become a nightmare for travel,” said Geoff Freeman, chief operating officer of the U.S. Travel Association, via the article.
Hold the jet bridge: You mean we were not already in the middle of a nightmare?
Let’s review what nightmarish airline restrictions are already in effect in our post-9/11 world: Ridiculous prohibitions such as banning whole bottles of shampoo; exorbitant fines for “contraband” in the neighborhood of $10,000 or more; virtual strip-searches via body imaging machines; manual searches of genital areas for those who opt-out of body imaging scans; recommendations that travelers show up two hours ahead of schedule; the list goes on.
On a more social note: children can no longer visit the cockpit and dream of becoming pilots; the days of greeting loved ones at the gate or having a meal with them in an airport terminal restaurant are long gone; and let’s not forget the persistent foot odor at TSA checkpoints now that everyone is required to take off their shoes.
I suppose Secretary LaHood and/or the TSA does have the power to make the lines extra-long so that everyone can continue to be groped or peeped at. And it’s possible that TSA and Customs can take even longer to thumb carefully through our belongings.
But isn’t the nightmare already bad enough? How about a better solution?
Let’s end this bad dream in a way that both saves the taxpayers money AND shortens the line at the airport — all while keeping American passengers secure.
I suggest we do away with the unnecessary security measures that created this nightmare to begin with. Travel safety does not mean multiple blue-gloved officers standing guard at every airport checkpoint and examining everyone’s private parts.
Reasonable precautions should be preserved and developed. Drug and bomb dogs can continue to sniff for explosive and illegal substances. Luggage can continue to be X-rayed as it was before 9/11. Suspicious passengers should be made to stand aside and be (modestly) patted down as they were before 9/11. Pilots should be allowed to carry weapons in order to defend their cockpits form hostile takeovers.
By the way, all of these methods could have prevented ANY of the attempted attacks over the past 12 years. Groping or visually examining every airline passenger has done nothing.
Let’s all work to sequester a decade’s worth of excessive regulations and privacy rights violations that have done absolutely nothing to make us safer in the skies.