Just another day in airport paradise
I fly. Often. I’ve logged over a million miles across various airlines and spent an inordinate amount of money over the years - it’s just part of what I do for a living, and who I am. When I travel, no matter where I travel -- just like hundreds of thousands of fellow travelers -- I grant respect and cooperation to TSA and airline staff by virtue of the fact that I pass through security, board planes in an orderly fashion and sit quietly belted-in for hours on end with no food and generally subpar service until I'm allowed to disembark.
So, why is it that we can’t seem to get the same sort of regard and respect in return? We live in a state where we’re preoccupied with security, sad as that may be. We all understand that security is critical, but there’s a fine line between a true risk and an abuse of power by airport staff when it suits their mood.
When photographer Sandy DeWitt snapped a photo last week of a name tag that belonged to an employee she claimed was being rude to passengers, she then was reportedly escorted off of her US Airways flight in Philadelphia. She was called “disruptive,” “a security risk,” allegedly using all manner of obscene language according to the airline spokesperson, when in fact it’s more likely that the only real risk that existed was the one the employee may have been taking by being offensive to passengers in the first place. Passengers have a right to be treated fairly - should they not have a right to call attention to matters where they feel they’re being disrespected? Instead, Sandy DeWitt was silenced and punished for attempting to exercise her right. Security risk, or job security risk?
95 year-old Lena Reppert was provided an option by TSA last week at Northwest Regional Airport in Florida to either remove her adult diaper and face an intrusive pat-down, or be denied passage through security. One can always argue the point that in this day and age, everyone is a potential suspect in the eyes of the TSA. However, there are alternate means and machinery available for a thorough search that does not involve the removal of undergarments. Was she asked to do this humiliating act because she could not be searched otherwise, or simply because someone with an outfit and a name tag could demand it? Powerfully thorough security, or power trip?
Travelers are forced to abide by rules, regulations and policies that in most cases are less than comfortable, but we endure because we can’t control our wanderlust. Just about every bit of old-world glamour has been squeezed out of the equation in the US while we try in vain as a nation to rebuild the economy and stimulate it with spending on high ticket items such as travel. Being subject to the all-too-frequent snarky service should not be part of the deal.