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Posts tagged airports

Delta has been growing their Seattle hub operation over the last couple of years, trying to cultivate a west coast hub that can serve Asia as well as some domestic U.S. destinations and parts of Europe. They released a new commercial recently, that you can watch below, that is directly targeting their Seattle market.

The general consensus is that the commercial doesn’t really get Seattle or the Pacific Northwest. I can see that. The ad doesn’t say much except to give a nod to Seattle’s proximity to both Tokyo and London and how the city has momentum (whatever that means).

More concerning than the commercial is a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune where Delta’s new CEO had some interesting thoughts on the airline’s future plans in China.

In September 2014, then-CEO Richard Anderson told a group in Minnesota that Delta hoped to explore a new nonstop route from MSP to China “in the next three to five years.”

Bastian, who has served as president since 2007, succeeded Anderson, who formally retired Monday. Bastian said he also believes an MSP-to-China route “would be an ideal opportunity” once Delta receives its new Airbus 350 planes — which will replace the retiring Boeing 747 aircraft — next year, and if U.S. carriers are granted more traffic rights in China. Foreign governments negotiate how many flights from each country it will allow to operate within its borders.

So why is Delta focused on building their Minneapolis hub’s reach in China when they have a rather large presence in Seattle, where they can use aircraft that don’t require ultra-long ranges? I am not sure. It seems like the complete opposite of what they were originally trying to do when they opened the hub in Seattle. United has started flying to non-top tier airports in China out of San Francisco, capturing a part of the market that Delta will quickly lose unless they make a move soon. By spreading their transpacific flights over multiple hubs I am a little worried that they are diluting themselves and not really building up the Seattle base. There has already been a slight withdrawal with the reduction of Seattle-Hong Kong and threats to stop flying to Tokyo from a number of U.S. airports if they are not granted certain slots at Tokyo-Haneda. One has to wonder how much more Delta’s presence at Seattle will retract all while they release commercials touting its awesomeness as a hub.

I Flew on a Plane Without Going Through Security and No One Died (Washington Post)

Imagine if catching an 11 a.m. flight out of D.C. was a matter of hopping on the Metro at Petworth at 10:20, getting off at Reagan/National Airport at 10:43, and boarding the plane at 10:50.

That world is possible. I’ve lived it, and it is amazing. All we have to do is abolish the TSA. Entirely. Just let people walk off the street and onto a plane.

Would this increase hijacking? Probably. But there’s no reason to believe it would increase casualties from terrorist attacks overall. That’s because increasing airport security just leads terrorists to direct their assaults elsewhere.

It is an interesting idea and fun to think about, but it isn’t going to happen. We will see the expansion of PreCheck availability, but as a whole, airport security in its current form is staying where it is. The TSA has firmly embedded itself as part of the traveling way of life.

There is no soft spot in my heart for the TSA, in fact, I have posted a lot about my disdain for their methods. After reading Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest piece on The Atlantic, I can’t say I’m holding out hope that things are going to get better any time soon.

Here’s a small excerpt from the article, though the whole thing deserves a read.

The pat-down at BWI was fairly vigorous, by the usual tame standards of the TSA, but it was nothing like the one I received the next day at T.F. Green in Providence. Apparently, I was the very first passenger to ask to opt-out of back-scatter imaging. Several TSA officers heard me choose the pat-down, and they reacted in a way meant to make the ordinary passenger feel very badly about his decision. One officer said to a colleague who was obviously going to be assigned to me, “Get new gloves, man, you’re going to need them where you’re going.”

The take-away from this single paragraph and really the whole article, is that the new pat-downs have little to do with security and a lot to do with intimidating people into using the backscatter machines. When a traveler opts-out of going through the x-ray machines, they will be subjected to a verbal demoralization as well as a pat-down that can be best described as borderline fondling.

Does any of this really increase security? After last week’s events in which explosive materials were found in ink cartridges being shipped to the United States, I would say it is all show and little substance. From what has been reported, the bomb plot was foiled thanks to information from a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner. That’s right, it wasn’t some TSA agent taking away your bottle of water while you got the frisking of a lifetime, it was information. Imagine that.

It may feel like there is not much we can do but I plan on making the TSA agents as uncomfortable as they make me in these situations. Maybe if their own employees complain enough, we’ll see some changes in these new pat-down procedures. Me, I’ll be opting-out of the backscatter every time I am at an airport that uses one. When they ask me why I opted out (had this happen the last couple of times) I am thinking about replying with an overtly sexual remark. Is that wrong? Probably. What’s worse is being groped so much that you finally submit to the backscatter machine.

In all seriousness, the TSA has the upper hand. You and I have destinations to get to and they are the gatekeepers. I have no problem taking out my laptop or taking off my shoes, but this is bordering on the ridiculous. Wait, it is ridiculous. I am sure we could do a much better job of making air travel safe by actually asking questions when people go through security and analyzing facial expressions, demeanor, etc. rather than taking naked pictures of everyone or worse, shaming them in front of others.

Let’s start sending notes to the men and women who work for us in government and ask that a serious look be taken at the procedures used at airports and oversight of the TSA. If someone in either House wants to make this their pet project, I’ll back them 100%.

For those of you who fly out of IAH, you can technically clear security at any checkpoint so long as your airline does not require you to go through a certain one (some international flights do). A number of the checkpoints do not have the backscatter machines, feel free to use those.

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.

This week’s links are a real hodge-podge!
  • Single Google Query Uses 1,000 Machines in 0.2 Seconds – A neat look inside of Google search. To use that much processing power in such a short time span is unbelievable.
  • Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0 – If the allegations of Yelp using its ability to change results for reviews to sell services are true, shame on them.
  • Delta to Close 170 Gates – As a side product of the merger with Northwest, Delta will be closing 170 gates across the country. The airline landscape in the U.S. is about to look a lot different.
  • Easy Poached Eggs – This one is random. We have fallen in love with Eggs Benedict, which requires poached eggs. We’ll be experimenting with them tonight.
  • Slice of Stimulus Will Go to Faster Trains – Not enough money to buy a high-speed train though. So we continue down the same path we’ve been on before, one that is plagued with a nonchalant attitude toward the power of rail.
  • A Prayer for Archimedes – A long lost text shows that the mathematician had begun to discover the principles of calculus; Long before Newton and Leibniz.