After Christmas Day’s failed attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 the TSA has announced new security procedures both at airports and in-flight. The procedures are supposed to make us safer while we travel but they seem to be heavy handed and overkill.
The domestic changes include more security personnel and screening of passengers at gates. While neither of these things seem like a big deal on the surface, the screening of passengers at the gate is a time intensive undertaking. This means that flights may be later and people may miss their flights due to the increased screenings.
Where the real restrictions come into play is international flights entering the United States. The rules now state that for the last hour of flight all passengers must remain seated with nothing in their laps, including blankets, pillows, magazines, and computers. Also, no electronics are allowed during that last hour flight. There have been confirmed rumors that airlines are turning off the in-flight entertainment for the entire flight because of the map feature. Another rumor, though I am not sure it has been confirmed, is that passengers will not be allowed to access their luggage in the overhead bin.
Maybe I am a rarity but I think these international rules are complete “theater” for the sake of us as an audience. No in-flight entertainment because of the map? If people know how long a flight is, they can kind of guess where they are, plus there are tools that map the most efficient routes for planes to travel.
The last hour of the flight is when people are most restless, they need to use the restroom and they are just ready to get off the plane. Keeping people in their seats for that last hour may seem like a good idea but what’s to keep a terrorist from doing their bad deed four hours before landing? Does no one else see the uselessness of this rule?
I am fine with not being able to use electronic devices that last hour, but not being able to read a magazine or cover myself with a blanket is not security, it’s paranoia mixed with the notion that we can keep people from doing bad things at all times.
What this boils down to is you, as a passenger, getting closer and closer to just becoming a body on a transport plane. When they announce that they are blindfolding everyone before boarding, I’m done flying.
[UPDATE] – Scott McCartney has a great write-up on this lunacy at The Wall Street Journal.