Ground Clutter

Feb. 17, 2010
Security, etc.

Security, security, security — it’s the buzzword of the day. Ever since the Christmas Bomber taught us that our mothers were right — we do need to wear clean underwear on trips — our world has been abuzz about security. Many people (I among them) think we should go study at the knees of the Israelis, who have had a near-perfect record for decades.

Others remind us that Israel’s airport/airline system is a mere drop in the bucket compared to ours, and they doubt their system could be expanded enough to fit our system. Evidently, they would rather try to improve a system that doesn’t work than try to expand one that does. El Al does insist that you arrive at the airport three hours before flight time. All things considered, that seems not unreasonable for an international flight out of Israel.

BTW, I understand that Heathrow — a busy airport if there ever was one — hired Israelis to build their security system. But make up your own mind. Search Israeli airport security to find gobs of good info.

* * *

For a change of subject, I just returned from a roundtrip to Fargo, ND, on Delta/NWA. Except for the hassle of dealing with two airlines (I wrote about that on my Blog recently, and was forthwith attacked by many airline pilots who wanted to draw and quarter me) the trip went well. I now travel on a new system: I check no bags (which means I must re-iron the suit I crammed into the small carry-on bag); treat all TSA personnel as if they are Mother Teresa and I a convicted axe murderer; and try my best to have everything they will want to check out of the bag and in one of those bucket trays. The result is amazing. They seem to assume that I am a pro traveler and treat me most politely.

The flights were all on time or early and onboard service warm and friendly except for one flight attendant who really should go find a job she doesn’t hate. It was quite obvious she didn’t like the pax, the company, and being awake during midday. I even thanked her for the (nonexistent) service, and she correctly growled, “I didn’t do nothin’.”

Airports used on the trip were TYS, MSP, FAR and DTW, and there was only one small glitch. Surprisingly, I had never, ever, driven to/from the Knoxville airport (TYS), and was thus navigating as a stranger. The signage was very good from I-26. After that I was dumped in the middle of nowhere with nary a sign, not even one of those signs with an airplane. I finally had to stop at a convenience store and the women therein — obviously well-versed in helping lost souls — informed me that “You got the right road, but you got six more miles to go.” If a stranger can’t find the airport, the signage is inadequate.

Airports seem to be better managed, cleaner, more comfortable, and providing better vendors than ever before. Wish that could be said of the entire industry.