Sunday, September 24, 2006

Things that make you go hmm...

I travel fairly often for work, and so I’ve had to deal with and get used to the increasingly onerous adn tedious security precautions that have become part of modern air travel.

After customs pre-clearance it’s off to security screening. While waiting in line I take off my coat and ensure I’ve no coins in my pockets. I take my laptop out of my bag because it needs to be x-rayed separately. And I take off my shoes and carry them, as they need to be x-rayed too. It’s quite a bit to juggle. And if they’re in a really bad mood, it’s off with the belt too. Try dragging all that stuff out of the screening area while holding your pants up at the same time. Fun stuff.

Then they added the liquids thing. No liquids on the plane. Since most of my trips are only a few nights I would never check my bag. Now, if I want to bring shaving cream and tooth paste, I need to. No more just walking off the plane on the other end.

While I’ve thought the liquid thing goes too far, I’m generally in favour of security and I’m always very cooperative with security officials. After all, as a traveler I want things to be safe. It wasn’t until reading Salon’s Ask a Pilot column though that the sheer silliness of this new screening regime occurred to me. Here’ how he put it:

Logic would dictate this material needs to be carefully removed and destroyed. After all, it's potentially hazardous. If you're taking somebody's shaving cream, the presumption has to be that perhaps it's not shaving cream after all, but instead something dangerous. Otherwise, why is it prohibited? And some of those liquid bombs we've been hearing so much about are concocted from highly unstable chemicals, meaning they need to be handled very carefully.

So what happens to this stuff? Does the bomb squad come in every evening and cart it away in steel casks? Don't be ridiculous. It's hurled into the trash. The line of reasoning goes like this: We already know these items are harmless, but we're going to take them anyway. Later, after you leave, we will dump them down the drain.

Are you feeling safer?

He’s exactly right. If this stuff cannot be brought on board because it is a potential explosive, shouldn’t it be disposed of under the impression that it is? Or is this all just a giant, expensive exercise in futility designed to make us feel safe? Or indeed, to keep us a little frightened, and on edge? As I said, things that make you go hmm…

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Robert said...

Good point.

Further along that line... shouldn't they be checking the confiscated material to see, if by chance, they have screened someone that was attempting to bring such a "liquid bomb" onto a plane?

CfSR said...

Excellent post.

My annoyance is that I can't bring back beer.

Before this ban was implemented (and I haven't travelled since), I regularly came home with beer that is not available locally.

I've done that for more than 20 years. Kokanee came east more Christmases than I could count.

My last trip to New York featured the airport carry on screeners playing "guess the brand". Yup, Kokanee again.

I don't think, however, that I'm going to put a six pack, or the four six packs allowed tax free, in my suitcase.

Doing so would put me over Air Canada's new ridiculous baggage weight limits.

And if they break...I don't want to be picking shards of glass out of my underwear.

A BCer in Toronto said...

You would think so Robert.

Cowboy, if you're flying within Canada I sympathize, but if you're trying to bring back American beer to Canada, well, then no sympathy for you...