I hate flying.
I mean, I really really hate flying. It’s a combination of the stress of making sure my carry on is the right size, checking that I’m not accidentally carrying any contraband, going through security, rushing to my gate, always feeling like I’m going to miss my connections, and the fact that I don’t trust the landing gear or engine to not crap out just when we need them.
If I had my way, I’d take the train everywhere.
It’s a problem for me, but I try to be calm and collected. I get everything packed days in advance, print out every conceivable piece of paper I could need ahead of time (and in triplicate), and get to the airport 2 or 3 hours before my flight. It’s still far more stressful than I would like though.
You know what doesn’t help? The TSA being power hungry idiots who wouldn’t know a terrorist if they walked up behind them, slapped them on the ass, and asked them to hold their belt of explosives for a minute.
The TSA agent would be too distracted by harassing old women and small children in wheelchairs, god forbid they should actually use profiling in any useful way.
So I’m preparing for a trip next month, to Washington DC for CPAC, and I’ve taken care of most everything that needs doing (except for packing, but I still have over 2 weeks until my flight), but the prospect of facing the TSA and their shenanigans at the airport is not comforting.
What the hell is wrong with the TSA anyway? I’m not sure if they just have a policy of only hiring high school drop outs, sadists, people with IQ under 70 points, and people with a disturbing amount of fondness for touching your private parts, or they just have really bad luck, but something is screwy. They have a long recorded history of abuse, lying, cheating, and stealing from customers, along with their truly incomprehensible screening choices on who they give pat downs and additional attention to. .
Most recently they terrorized a 3 year old with spina bifida, who was in a wheelchair, which is even more despicable than last December when they did the same thing to a 12 year old girl in a wheelchair.
And don’t forget that they exposed the breast of a 17 year old girl (who happened to also be the niece of a Texas Senator) last November!
When they aren’t harassing small children and covering people in their own urine, they are stealing rampantly from passengers, sometimes to fulfill their own sadistic revenge at being forced to do their jobs.
And who can forget Dana Loesch’s unfortunate debacle at my own local airport last October. Yes, I’m truly looking forward to dealing with Phoenix Sky Harbor’s TSA, where they blatantly break their own rules.
The TSA is run by a bunch of power-hungry, kleptomaniac, sadists and I’m not afraid to say it.
However, if you are flying here’s a few pointers, things that you should be aware of and prepared to do should the TSA take exception to you for some reason. I did my research to prepare for my trip, so I thought I would pass it along to you.
First of all, do take the list of forbidden items seriously. Most of it is just common sense (who tries to take a samurai sword on a plane anyway?) but take a glance at it when you are packing your bags (whether checked or carry on). You will reduce your own stress and the stress of all the people behind you in the security line. Also, wear sensible clothing, shoes you can slip off and on quickly (I once was behind a woman who was wearing lace up, knee high converse, I wanted to punch her) and leave your jewelry in your bag until you get through security.
That’s the common sense stuff. Now if you still manage to attract the “special” attention of the TSA and you are selected for additional screening for some reason, here’s some more facts for you.
First of all, you have the right to either a public or private pat down. If the TSA official tells you that it MUST be private, they are lying. If you aren’t embarrassed to be patted down in public, then there should be no concern. After all, they aren’t doing anything that they need to hide…right?
Second, you will be patted down by a member of the same sex. Another TSA agent must be there to supervise. You also have the right to a 3rd person of your choosing to watch the proceedings. Once again, if they deny you this right then you need to seriously consider taking this up the food chain and speaking to a manager. (note: this 3rd person need not be someone you know, if you are travelling alone. You can ask a stranger in line to witness, if they are willing.)
Third, the TSA does not prohibit recording of screenings. According to the TSA Blog:
We don’t prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations. You can take pictures at our checkpoints as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process or slowing things down. We also ask that you do not film or take pictures of our monitors.
If they say you can’t for any other reason than airport policy (some airports have specific restrictions) they are lying. Once again, they are doing nothing they need to hide (right?), so why should they worry about you recording the proceeding. You are the one being patted down, not them.
Of course all this can be rendered rather moot by the fact that the TSA has little to no oversight and any violations of your civil liberties can only really be addressed in a complaint or lawsuit after the fact. The TSA, as gestapo-like as they are, have the ultimate control over whether or not you make it to your flight on time…or at all.
All you can really do is know your rights, insist they follow their own rules and regulations, and hope that whoever does your screening has a little common sense….hope springs eternal after all.
Also, for goodness sake, don’t just take it if they abuse you. Even if you brush it off at the time, just to make your flight, kick up a fuss afterward and let people know what happened. The more often we confront the TSA about their abuse of power and willful breaking of their own regulations, the better.
As it is, I’m probably risking some special attention myself on my next flight, just for writing this article.
To the TSA: I’m a law-abiding, patriotic, American citizen and I will cooperate with any reasonable search…as long as you follow your own rules, but there are some things that you can’t do without buying me at least one expensive dinner first. Also, keep in mind before you harass me, I’m flying to a national conference full of people who similarly can’t stand you.