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US airport security

My willingness to use flying as a form of transportation was drastically reduced when the TSA instituted rules limiting the amount of liquids through the security checkpoint. Originally, empty beverage bottles were not allowed through the checkpoint either. That was a boundary for me because I consider it a basic need to carry a lot of water with me when I travel, and I consider it an unreasonable burden to be required to purchase an overpriced bottle of water after clearing the checkpoint. (I can't find any rules about empty bottles on the TSA site right now and I've had reports from people who fly that they were able to bring empty bottles through the checkpoint, so maybe that rule has changed.)

As a person with medical conditions, I am exempt from the rules about liquids, but it offends me that the rules are imposed on other people. It also strikes me as pointless to have rules that people can exempt themselves from just by saying they have a medical condition.

So for the past several years I've flown very rarely.

The fact that I need to buy two seats to be comfortable also contributes to my choice to limit flying.

The new rules about full-body scanners and more intrusive pat-downs strengthen my resolve to limit the amount of flying I do. I don't have a lot of body modesty and don't fear sexual harrassment, so I don't think I would be personally harmed by going through the scanner or being manually searched.

But I believe people have a right not to be subjected to invasive searches without probable cause, and I'm not willing to relinquish my right.

I am privileged and fortunate that I have a choice whether to fly, and I am not making any recommendations for other people.

This mainly affects my likelihood of going to Wiscon. Theoretically I could drive to Wiscon and I'm not ruling that out, but I looked into it once and it seemed like it would be more driving than would be enjoyable for me. I'm not making any decisions about flying now, because a lot of things could happen between now and May, but I'm somewhat less likely to go if the scans and invasive searches become standard.

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/695884.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 19th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC)
I'm rethinking attending PyCon for similar reasons
I had a pat down last July when I left my MP3 player in my cargo pants pocket. It wasn't a big deal. My cat just gave me worse.

I don't want the back scatter radiation. It hasn't been tested properly. I know because my cousin works at NIST.

So each airline trip is going to get careful scrutiny.

BTW I've had no problem getting an empty plastic water bottle through security. I just fill it up with drinking fountain water after the checkpoint.
Nov. 20th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm rethinking attending PyCon for similar reasons
If they are doing the new patdown properly, it will be more than the one you described--I've had the old patdown but it didn't involve anyone touching the underside of my boobs or running a finger in the waistband of my undies.
Nov. 20th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm rethinking attending PyCon for similar reasons
They changed the patdown procedure on November 1st. It is substantially more invasive.
Nov. 19th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
I haven't flown since well before 9/11, and don't think I will do it except in the most dire emergency. I feel the way you do about the water. The air on airplanes seems to suck all the moisture out of one's body. I've had a terrible time with my sinuses. I think a road trip can be a real treat, especially if you can spend a lot of time and make plenty of stops. I wouldn't hesitate to do it if I had the money.
Nov. 19th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
and if I could bring the dog!
Nov. 20th, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
I love road trips of a couple of days there and a couple of days back. I'm not sure I'd like a road trip of five days there and five days back. I guess I should find out.
Nov. 19th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
The last time I flew, I was sick and brainless, and I had to go through the metal detector twice, and I forgot to empty my water bottle. I always bring my own bottle, and I've never had a problem--the guy even told me just to empty it.
Nov. 20th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
Buying that expensive water on the other side of security is an annoyance (and expense). You're right that it's important to have it -- the air on the planes is really dry and you will be dehydrated and at higher risk for deep vein thrombosis, etc. etc.

Flying was sucking rocks before the nude scanner and the grope fest. I knew that one little thing would make me stop flying since I was at my capacity for tolerance. They came up with a biggie rather than something tiny.

You could take the train part of the way to Wiscon. There is one from San Francisco to Chicago, and then you can take the bus to Madison. It would mean time, and quite a bit of extra money if you get the sleeper car. I'm getting my first sleeper car for Ft. Worth when I go see my brother this March.

I'll let you know how it is!
Nov. 20th, 2010 03:54 am (UTC)
Please do let me know how the sleeping car goes. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable in a sleeping car.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:49 am (UTC)
I took the sleeper from Seattle to Minneapolis several years ago. It was a little claustrophobic -- little closet, barely big enough for the fold-down bed (though the big window helped with the claustrophobia). The bed seemed remarkably sturdy for a fold-down -- no alarming creaks when I rolled over, for instance. I'd have been unhappy if I'd been too much taller, because I sleep with my arms above my head.

I've been thinking about taking the train for Wiscon this year, too. I want to go, but I'm ticked off enough at having to fly next month.

I was patted down as a kid, once, at the airport when my little sister and I were flying without an adult. It was very creepy and weird and still makes me skin crawl.

Gah. This whole thing makes me mad.
Nov. 20th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC)
They're working on a different kind of scanner where it shows only the outline of the person and a square where something has to be checked.
Nov. 20th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
This kind of scanner already exists. We saw them in use at the airport in Amsterdam. We refused the scanner anyhow and got patdowns (the normal kind, not the kind where they stroke your crotch). The security woman there told us that they initially had the more detailed scanners, but replaced them with this kind because too many people complained.

While this kind of scanner is less visually intrusive, the radiation concerns still apply.
Nov. 20th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
I won't fly if I can help it. I resent the way the airlines treat their passengers (like cattle) and the TSA putting their mitts on me where they don't belong.

Incidentally, there's word that the TSA may become privatized. I wonder who'll get the cntract - Blackwater or Xe?
Nov. 21st, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
I'm quite surprised to see all the comments about water. Firstly, compared to the price of an air ticket - in fact, even compared to the price of long-stay airport car parks - bottled water costs next to nothing.

And secondly, the liquids ban is due to a very real plot to kill thousands of people by detonating explosives carried onto planes in drinks bottles. The perpetrators were arrested just days before carrying this out and were convicted - see for example

The tighter security is on the ground, the safer I feel in the air. I'd much rather they gave people free water in the air (which they do on long haul flights anyway) than let people have medical exemptions to get round the ban.
Nov. 21st, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
The tighter security is on the ground, the safer I feel in the air. I'd much rather they gave people free water in the air (which they do on long haul flights anyway) than let people have medical exemptions to get round the ban.

Exactly, "security" that allows anyone who claims a medical exemption to bring unlimited liquids anyway is not meaningful security. Instead of instituting meaningful security, the TSA creates inconvenience for the majority of passengers (and fear for some) while allowing dangerous items to pass through anyway.

Note that if they did not allow certain exemptions for liquids, then a great many more people would not be able to fly, e.g., parents with bottle-fed infants, people who use medicines that have to be kept cold, people with colostomies; I'm sure there are others.

I understand that there are fairly secure airports, e.g., Ben Gurion, that don't use the inconvenient/invasive methods that the TSA is using, but the TSA isn't using those methods because they cost more (you have to give the agents more training).
Nov. 23rd, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
Your likelihood of getting to Wiscon is still orders of magnitude higher than mine.
Dec. 15th, 2010 06:26 am (UTC)
I vaguely recall being allowed to bring an empty water bottle onto a commercial plane.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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