In response to my question from last week, many readers have written to tell me that the new airport security measures are "ridiculous." Some suggest the measures make air travel "not worth the effort." I've received reports of women's bras being confiscated, trips being canceled because of the hassle, and just a general sense of anger at the inconveniences imposed by the new restrictions.
Here's a sampling of the responses I received.
- From Corry: "I think it's a great inconvenience and only aggravates the traveler ... The whole idea is ridiculous and as dumb as thinking all travelers are potential shoe bombers. The backward thinking of the Homeland Security people is shutting the barn door after the horse is stolen. These officials should be anticipating what will happen, not try and prevent what might have happened. If I sound irritated, I truly am. I haven't flown since these ridiculous rules have been put into effect, but there are three trips coming up this fall and I am not looking forward to the flights."
- From Bonnie: "I don't think the [ban on] liquids and gels is totally necessary. I am supremely aggravated by it all and yes, it will affect my travel, especially overseas. I am canceling a trip to Asia for a cruise—traveling by air has become not worth the aggravation ... I'll travel by air for business when necessary and in the U.S. for some leisure, but I think I'll just put my money in my home—home improvement here I come!"
- From Angie: "I think the new ban on liquids and gels on airplanes is a very big inconvenience. I probably will cut my airline travel. People will be checking more bags in order to take all their liquids and gels. I don't think this will do away with terrorists—they will just find another way."
- From Carol: "Here in Hawaii the TSA people really cannot get their system straight! They are banning women from wearing 'water bras' and they are also banning us from bringing a lilikoi pie from the island of Kauai back to Honolulu! (Lilikoi is a type of fruit, commonly known as passion fruit.) It's because the pie is considered a 'gel' and that is a banned item. Also the 'gel' insoles that go inside of the shoes."
- From Carolyn: "If this ban is indefinite, I am reluctant about making plans to travel abroad or where I have to change planes, if I am not allowed to have my personal items with me. I am grateful that we can still fly but there has to be a better way of dealing with this terror without taking our freedom away."
- From Lois: "I think it is a senseless inconvenience—particularly for business travelers. It's one thing to fly nonstop from Washington to San Francisco where the chances are good your luggage will make it, and if it does not, you can go out and buy what you need. If you are traveling overseas ... where there are multiple plane changes and not much in the way of drugstores and the like, forget it. Also, on 12- or 17-hour flights, you need water and a lot of it. Carrying bottled water is one way to make sure you have it in the air and when you land—not to mention it cuts down on the risk of having a glass spilled in your lap. At the very least—they should allow water and if they must, they could ask us to drink it."
- From John: "I am a 73-year-old retired naval officer and business man. Since I started flying in the 1950s, air travel has become an uncomfortable, inconsiderate, and constant-changing schedules experience. I only travel by air when it is absolutely necessary. The airlines care little for the passengers and their needs. Add all these knee-jerk security measures and air travel is sadly now a joke."
- From Therese: "I don't understand why checked luggage has increased so dramatically for domestic flights. Were people filling their carry-ons with liquids and gels? The necessary liquids for daily grooming for a woman or man don't take up that much space or weigh that much."
In answer to this last comment, I think the increase in checked luggage can be traced mostly to the "hassle effect" of dealing with having your carry-on bags rifled through at the security checkpoints.
Unfortunately, this knee-jerk reaction is resulting in reports of major inconveniences at the baggage claim belts. I've heard stories of waits of up to an hour for all bags to be unloaded, and many, many tales of bags not making it all the way to their final destinations.
Will it ever get better? Not in the short term, it seems. Corry's response summarizes my feelings nicely: "The backward thinking of the Homeland Security people is shutting the barn door after the horse is stolen."
Do we need better security? Yes. Is this really helping? It doesn't seem that way to me, particularly when you hear as many tales as I have of banned items slipping through even after these new measures were put in place.
Seems to me there has to be a better way.