The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘airport security’

Airport!

Posted by keithosaunders on May 4, 2011

No, this is not another rant about airport security!  I was scanning through the cable channels after watching a Dodgers/Cubs game, when I came across the film, Airport.  I remember seeing this with my parents when it came out — I must have been 10 years old at the time.  Since then I’ve seen it on TV a handful of times, but not in many years.

For those not old enough to remember, Airport is a film about a bomb that goes off on a transatlantic flight, and the crew’s attempts to land the plane.  You may remember the Jim Abrahams /David Zucker send-up called Airplane, starring Leslie Nielson and Lloyd Bridges, which was released in 1980.  (It’s actually a better film!)

Airport, released in 1970, was the first disaster movie.  It presaged Earthquake, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno by a few years.  It was what passed for a blockbuster in the age before Jaws and Star Wars.  It had a high-wattage cast of thousands, which included a middle-aged, but still handsome, Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Maureen Stapleton, Van Heflin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, Helen Hayes — who won an oscar for best supporting actress —  and George Kennedy.

I came in just as it was getting good, as the passengers were boarding the plane.  I was struck by how different plane travel was in those days, particularly the airport security, or lack thereof.  Hayes plays a women who is known for stowing away on plane flights.  She is able to board the plane simply by telling a random airport worker that her son has left his wallet, and ‘could she please return it to him.’  “Hurry,”  the worker tells her, “run and give it to him before the flight leaves!”  Just like that she is able to get on the plane.  Come to think of it, I have memories of those days —  I once was allowed to board a plane to say goodbye to my aunt. 

Heflin, plays a down on his luck ex-GI who plans on blowing up the plane so that his wife can collect the insurance.  His bomb is in an attaché case which he clings to suspiciously as he wlks onto the plane.  One of the workers notices this, and when he mentions it to his superior he is told, “I would worry if he was arriving from overseas and going through customs.  Let the authorities in Rome handle it.” 

That was all it took for the movie to rope me in.  To tell you the truth, it was surprisingly watchable, even though the special effects are laughably primitive.  The long shots of the airplane in flight look particularly fake and the night shots contain some of the fakest looking stars I have ever seen.  The film does manage to build suspense, however, and there is quaintness to the matter of fact way that it goes about telling its tale. 

Somehow they are able to land the plane without any casualities, except for Heflin who dies when the bomb explodes.  The film ends with Lancaster driving off into the sunrise to have breakfast, and sleep with Jean Seberg.  Of course she’s  at least 25 years his junior, but hey, he’s Burt Lancaster. 

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Just say no to air travel

Posted by keithosaunders on November 20, 2010

Enough is enough.  The TSA has made it clear to us that they will have their way with our bodies, whether it be by radiation exposure or excessive groping of genitalia.  Let’s face it, the experience of air travel has long ceased to be anything approaching glamorous, let alone tolerable.  Let’s exercise our last line of recourse and vote with our pocket books.  

If enough of us refused to fly the airlines would feel compelled to offer incentives as a way of drawing us back.  Number one on their priority would almost certainly be expunging the TSA from the airports and replacing them with private security.   

Since that alone would not be enough to entice this jaded traveller to return I am offering my own list of incentives.

1)  Elimination of charges for checking luggage. 

2) Ability to fully refund my ticket up to 7 days prior to flying

3) A guarantee that when I purchase a ticket that I will have a seat waiting for me.  This means that when I purchase my ticket I immediately have an assigned seat.

4) Price of in-air food decreased by 50%.

5) Two in-air drinks for the price of one.

6)  In case of flight delays exceeding 30 minutes passengers receive a $50 voucher which can be used towards future flight purchase.

7) In case of delays upwards of 60 minutes passengers receive $80 in airport VIP lounge script and lunch with John Elway. 

I’m negotiable on point 7.

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Fear of flying

Posted by keithosaunders on November 17, 2010

Just in time for the holiday rush the TSA has rolled out the nude body scanning machines, allowing security officials to see through clothing.  Passengers may opt out of the scanners, but up to this point less than 1% have done so.  This is not surprising since opting out means enduring an invasive  pat-down complete with genital groping.  You get the feeling that if the TSA  had the technology to do it fast enough they would go ahead and submit us all to full cavity searches.

There is nothing easy about airline travel, which is an ordeal on par with root canal.  For me, the biggest indignity is being made to feel like a criminal simply by my possession of an airline ticket.  With every security breakdown we travellers are subjected to more and more nonsense.  From taking off our shoes and belts, not being able to bring water into the terminal, to having to endure groping by high-school graduate, would-be jack booted thugs.  Can that retina scanners be far in our future?

Today I read of a passenger named John Tyner who opted out of the scanners.  During the pat-down, when it became clear that the agent was about to touch his groin he said, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”  This kicked off a series of consultations with supervisors that resulted in Tyner not being able to fly and being ejected from the airport.  His ordeal is detailed in his blog post and is worth reading. 

Most disturbing of all is what I read yesterday in Salon in Glenn Greenwald’s column.   He wrote,

 …the TSA called a news conference to announce that it was formally investigating Tyner to determine whether to impose $11,000 in fines on him.  

Nothing about Tyner’s protest was threatening, violent, or belligerent.  This kind of reaction makes me wonder if we are living in a proto-fascist state.  The message is clear:  Do not make waves if you know what’s good for you.

   

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