Asleep at the wheel, on line, and at the baggage claim

In response to the foiled London liquid terrorism plot, US airport security has been stepped up. Of course this is yet another late response to threats that have already been identified. It’s not like they didn’t know. Hell, it’s not like I didn’t know either. I have always known ways around security if I wanted to take down a plane. Still the FAA finds itself miserably unprepared and without a plan to install equipment to detect liquid explosives. It all seems like a farce, especially since the regulations tell you exactly how to smuggle liquids on (prescriptions, baby formula, etc.). And frankly, it’s just really frustrating as a frequent traveler.

So frustrating in fact that I begin to wonder how much America is willing to push back against unwarranted levels of inconvenience caused by incompetence. You now have to arrive 2 hours ahead of time to major airports, especially because you almost have to check baggage – the cardinal no-no of business travel. And because people just aren’t prepared, flights are invariably late, tacking on even more time onto your trip.

Even worse, airlines aren’t prepared to handle the estimated 20% additional baggage. This weekend they had to kick-off 6 passengers off my Delta commuter plane because we exceeded the weight limit. Then, because of miscalculation, they had to remove 15 additional bags. So tack on some more waiting for your bag that never comes. I am still waiting for my 15 lbs bag as I type, while I watched people walk off with 60 lbs “overweight” bags. Apparently common sense doesn’t apply to baggage control.

I don’t expect anyone to speak up against the FAA or the airlines; Americans’ patience for being manipulated is astounding (Note: I filed a complaint). But I do expect the number of air travelers to dip, especially for shorter segment flights – business travel. In a world where digital collaboration is getting increasingly more feasible, this is the wrong time to piss off travelers.

I am shorting the airline industry, but oddly enough, this is the first time I have felt that the security measures are effective. But affectivity and reasonable convenience are two different things. Both are required for a successful airline industry.