Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Flying in a post "OMG the terrorists will use liquids to blow us up" world

Today was my first experience flying since the plot to use liquid/gel explosives was uncovered by the Brits.

Let me first preface this by saying that I do not trust the airline to get any checked baggage from my place of departure to my final destination, especially when said trip involves a change of plane. I also loathe waiting around that baggage carousel with hordes of people waiting for my bag to finally come down the chute. So, whenever possible, I don't check any bags.

Luckily, I was not flying out of one of the more busy airports in my metropolitan area. Still, because of the whole no aerosols rule, I had to go out of my way to produce medical documentation for my inhaler--for severe asthma. They actually questioned me on the necessity of carrying this on the plane! Sorry, I'd like to arrive at my final destination alive and breathing reasonably well.

Now, before I packed my bags, I did the responsible thing and went to the TSA's website as well as other websites that listed the prohibited items and things that other travelers had problems with. For this reason, I procured several necessities for my trip:

  • solid perfume

  • pure shea butter - in solid form (from L'Occitane)

  • a brand new inhaler with box including prescribing information

  • lip balm - which is allowed, according to the TSA web site

My larger carry on item made it through the scanners with no problem. My purse, however, was another issue. And, there's nothing more embarassing than having your purse's entire contents emptied out in front of the world. Does everyone in the security screening area really need to know that I need an inhaler or tampons or any such personal item? They didn't bother pulling the bag aside and me along with it--instead they emptied the entire thing (this is not a small purse either) out on the table area just past the x-ray machine conveyor belt. So, after dumping everything (which I had so neatly packed in there so that I could find what I needed easily), they pull out my solid perfume and solid shea butter and inform me that they are not allowed. Thankfully, the screener didn't get an attitude when I suggested she read the labels of the items she was going to confiscate and informed her that both items were solids of consistency similar to lip balm. Luckily she indulged me and looked and changed her mind. Otherwise, I would have been one unhappy camper considering all of my research indicated those items were acceptable.

All in all, I really don't think these new restrictions are helping security. People are on edge when they're flying--they're scared. We've responded exactly how terrorists want us to.

Reports on the web indicate that flights have been delayed, diverted or other such hassles simply because passengers and/or flight attendants think two people might be of asian or middle eastern descent and who might be speaking in Arabic and glancing at their watches are a threat.

Give me a break. Banning liquids and gels and such is ridiculous--we're giving in to what the terrorists want: for us to live in fear and change the way we live our lives based off of that fear.