Thursday, July 14, 2005

Security Theater Review

by Tom Bozzo

Before last week's visit, it had been quite a while since I'd last been to D.C. in person (damned e-mail and teleconferences), so somewhere along the way I missed or forgot about a change to the security drill for passengers to the airport I'll only refer to as plain old National Airport — or DCA, to those in the know.

When service resumed there, boarding a plane to DCA involved Vegas-grade security theater — dedicated gates with conspicuously armed police and a good chance of getting frisked twice in a one-way airline trip. That is no more.

Now comes the announcement that the other unique feature of flying to DCA, the house arrest for the half-hour of the flight closest to the airport's infamously short runways, will soon be eliminated, too. I'd have said that the move represents, more than anything, ratification of a "rule of reason" that seemed to be prevailing, at least on my DCA flights. But the Post article does note that at least 100 flights actually were diverted to Dulles over the rule's lifetime, but quotes a frequent flyer to illustrate "haphazard" application of the rule.

Indeed. What I'd seen in the early days was that a dense or distracted passenger who took the half-hour announcement as the last call for the bathroom would blow a sky marshal's cover before the passenger was in the aisle, without calling for even more disproportionate official responses. (I'm curious as to who is supposed to make the call.) On my most recent arrival, the belated rise of an elderly woman a row ahead of me for a bathroom trip — to the First-Class lav, which economy passengers are not supposed to use for security reasons, at that — resulted in nothing more than a flight attendant helping her with the lavatory door.

Anyway, good riddance!
What a joke! A city that votes over 90% Democrat is forced to have an airport named after him. Damn Newspeak.
Some congressional Republicans were just on a kick of naming everything in sight for the Gipper; you could almost have made an Onion story out of it.

An amusing detail is that many of the (unionized) airline employees I encountered in my former business travels resisted the name change for quite a while.
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