TSA Making Flying More Miserable
In the wake of the terrorism attempt Friday on a Northwest Airlines flight, federal officials on Saturday imposed a new layer of restrictions on travelers that could lengthen lines at airports and limit the ability of international passengers to move about an airplane.
Among other steps being imposed, passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item aboard the plane, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines.
The restrictions will again change the routine of air travel, which has undergone an upheaval since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in September 2001 and three attempts at air terrorism since then.
Airline industry executives said the new steps would complicate travel as vacationers return home from Christmas trips, and could also cause travelers to cancel plans for flights in 2010.
In effect, the restrictions mean that passengers on flights of 90 minutes or less would most likely not be able to leave their seats at all, since airlines do not allow passengers to walk around the cabin while a plane is climbing to its cruising altitude.
The new restrictions began to be instituted Saturday on flights from Canada and Europe to the United States. Air Canada said it was waiving fees for the first checked bag, and it told passengers to be prepared for delays, cancellations and missed connections because of the new limits.
This is mind-numbingly stupid. As Radley Balko notes, these measures “wouldn’t even have done anything to prevent the attempt over the weekend. The guy was in his seat when he tried to light the explosive device. And the passenger who confronted him got out of his seat to do it.”
We’re simply going to make people miserable for no apparent reason. There have been precisely three attempts over the last eight years to commit acts of terrorism aboard commercial aircraft. All of them clownishly inept and easily thwarted by the passengers. How many tens of thousands of flights have been incident free? And, yet, we’re going to make hundreds of thousands of people endure transcontinental flights without reading materials or the ability to use the restroom?
At least for domestic flights, we have the ability as consumers to tell TSA to stick it and just drive. More of us are making that choice all the time. But there’s no real alternative to flight for overseas travel.
UPDATE: Steve Bainbridge wonders, “Has TSA ever considered the possibility that maybe the terrorists aren’t really interested in blowing up a plane. Maybe the terrorists figure they win everytime we in the West spend millions of man-hours being hassled, inconvenienced, and generally put upon by a myriad of stupid security measures.”