The Terrorists Win Again

No, the idiot failed to blow himself up, and consequently didn’t blow anything else up either, but aside from that the latest terrorist attack can be counted a magnificent success because it has produced the desired result: mindless panic and the imposition of a welter of new random, ineffectual restrictions on travelers.

I’d give the TSA a few points for thinking that maybe restricting passengers to one carry-on might give them more time to check that bag more thoroughly, if I wasn’t a regular traveler and only too well aware that the only result of this will be that people will get bigger bags and pack them more tightly, thereby probably making it even harder to see what is in them. Not to mention causing yet more chaos with regard to overcrowded overhead bins.

As for the restrictions on leaving your seat and having anything in your lap, how on earth this that going to stop a determined terrorist on a flight longer than a couple of hours? The only way you can make aircraft totally “safe” from passengers is if they are stripped naked, gagged and bound in their seats for the duration of the flight, and forced to listen to government propaganda about how safe they should be feeling. Oddly no one at the TSA has yet suggested that. Probably it is only a matter of time.

And, as Tom Abba noted on Twitter, I’m looking forward to the TSA requiring people to remove their underpants at the security check points. After all, that’s what they did with shoes. Maybe the terrorists should try hiding explosives in a bra next. The TSA folks will be falling over themselves to implement new checks as a result of that.

As indeed some of them will doubtless now pay extra close attention to all young black men, because as we all know you can tell a terrorist by how different he looks from you.

No, the real questions we ought to be asking here is how someone who had already been identified as a risk was able to board a flight without any extra checks carrying an explosive that had been used by terrorists before, and a syringe, which I’m sure is more obvious and more dangerous than a nail file or a lipstick. Those questions deserve answering. But they are awkward questions, so what we get instead is new regulations that ban people from reading books for substantial parts of the flight because, you know, those intellectuals are a dangerous lot. Furthermore a lot of the regulations are things that the cabin crews will have to enforce. That’s going to lead to a lot more air rage, I suspect. (And what’s the betting that enforcement won’t be nearly as strict in Business and First.)

If I hadn’t made commitments to go to various conventions next year, and didn’t have to fly in order to get to see Kevin, I would be seriously considering giving up air travel altogether, because I think that’s the only way we can stop this nonsense. Get the airline companies lobbying Congress and then perhaps something will be done.

12 thoughts on “The Terrorists Win Again

  1. I am in complete agreement with you, Cheryl. I was hoping that most of the recent restrictions were enough for people to get angry. Angry to the point of revolt and ultimately grounding the airlines. This might actually push people over the edge. But it won’t, because in the end, a lot of us are sheep who enjoy being herded through security lines and told what to do. What a sad mental state.

    If anything — the one thing the officials are missing is that the passengers quickly subdued this idiot. Some climbed over a few rows of seats to help out.

    By implementing the new rules, they are actually hampering their greatest and first line of defense. It’s only a matter of time before this happens again and an innocent gets tasered for trying to help.

    It’s not the idiots on the planes we have to worry about, but the idiots making the rules. Lest everyone forget that criminals and potential terrorists are the ones who don’t ever follow the rules. That’s why they are terrorists and criminals!

    As for the book and magazine BS, I guess there will be no more American Way magazine or safety placards in the seatback pockets, either. Skymall will go out of business as well.

    Ugh. I’m angry now. Angry enough — not to fly anymore.

  2. When the TSA tried to enforce ‘no queueing for the toilets’ on US-bound flights a few years back, airlines rejected it as unworkable. I expect a similar reaction to the knee-jerk ‘nothing on your lap for the last hour’ proposal, in part because technically this will exclude even reading the Safety Card in your seat pocket. Frankly, the TSA doesn’t get to dictate the role of cabin crew on foreign airlines – we are certainly not policemen for the TSA. I’m less sure how much influence they have over the crews of US airlines.

    I expect this event will mean a fast-tracking of the introduction of all-over body X-rays for US-bound flights instead of a mere metal scanner.

    Also, I’ve noticed that not everyone who has been commenting elsewhere on this event realises that it’s legal to carry syringes on board as diabetics need them.

  3. Agreed on most of those points.

    Most cons I go to are easy train trips (under three hours) or driving. The trip to Dragon Con will become an overnight train trip instead. It may be in coach, but I will be able to move around more than on an airplane. It is ashame I used to like to travel by plane. It makes Renovation much less likely because it would be too expensive by train.

    1. Tom S:

      Have you checked the fares to Reno? I’ve found that to most places, coach fare on the train is within the same range as airfare. (Admittedly, Reno could easily be one of the exceptions.)

      I was figuring on flying to Westercon next year, though my SO has been trying to talk me into a driving trip. We’re talking Portland, OR to Pasadena, but even so I’m ready to listen to him now.

      1. Good point Petra, but I would be coming from Baltimore, MD. It also takes three days to get to Reno from Baltimore (without freight related delays). It would be an epic vacation, though.

  4. Air rage? You’re going to have otherwise stable people having genuine minor psychological breakdowns. Seriously.

    I’m still hoping that when we get an official announcement from the TSA, it’ll turn out the new measures have been misreported. If they haven’t been, geez, I really feel for people attempting to travel with children, or medical conditions that require special supplies to be on hand.

  5. I have to wonder if planes with large numbers of small children traveling will have crews that decide this is crap – no bottles, no pacifiers, no spit up rags, no toys to keep the 4 year old from siting and screaming his head off – really? I have trouble believing the cabin crews will not find ways around that. Maybe “no electronics” which “could blow up” or some other such nonsense, but a book and a bottle strike me as things cabin crews will find ways to allow.

    That all said – flying has just reached the point where if I *can* I will travel some other way. Most of my travel is one extreme or the other – on the West Coast and so just as (if not more) efficient by train/car or so far a plane must be used (East Coast or further). Given my current economic state, the latter won’t be happening for awhile so all travel can be “land based” till we can convince them to make intelligent choices instead of stupid ones.

    I will think good thoughts for those times you must fine yourself on a plane for now.

  6. Not to mention that, at least according to the pundits on one cable news station, this incident means –

    we need to drop health care reform and spend out energy on security

    this is what you get for ‘engaging’ with other countries

    obviously this administration isn’t getting the job done

    Just once – just one time – I’d like to see a major network do a piece on the fact that engaging in all this ineffective stupidity helps the terrorists.

  7. Seeing as this latest fellow mixed his explosives in the toilet, the obvious solution is to rip out all toilets on flights and insist passengers supply their own catheters and bags. Simple, no?

    BTW, most of these latest restrictions seem to be aimed only at flights originating abroad and ending up in the US.

    Actually Pete Young mentions a good point: travel with a foreign airline. At their home airport, they might be forced to follow any ridiculous rule (or lose their right to land in the US) but once on board…can you imagine Malaysian or Thai airlines staff telling a mother with kid that she can’t give him a toy in the last hour?? Won’t happen.

    And foreign airlines are the least likely to be attacked anyway. If your message is for the US, there’s not much of a message in blowing up Air New Zealand or Singapore Airlines.

  8. So I missed this entirely, as I haven’t looked at the news for days (part of a current effort to get my mental health in order).

    But what is it about But they are awkward questions, so what we get instead is new regulations that ban people from reading books for substantial parts of the flight because, you know, those intellectuals are a dangerous lot?

    Because if anyone tries that on me, I am going to make a BIG stink.

    Googling around to try and find out what this is. But I don’t understand the problem with reading material. I am already angry, already find going through security and flying difficult because sometimes keeping my irritability under control is well-nigh impossible with so many triggers around, from the separation by class, to the cheerfully invasive huge white men with buzzcuts (less at the airport than at American customs when coming from Canada, thank ghod, I always have to find something to chew on for those few minutes) and one thing I’d love to see somewhere online is a top ten list of ways for non-neurotypical people to keep themselves calm as a survival tactic under those circumstances.

  9. What optimists you all are. You didn’t see this then? …

    ” A shocking development in a recent suicide bombing has security and intelligence officials extremely concerned according to a BBC report. The report confirms earlier suspicions that the al Qaeda suicide bomber who died while attempting to kill a Saudi prince in Jeddah last month apparently hid the explosives inside his body and detonated them using a cell phone. ”

    I’m afraid that the era of International air travel as if traveling by bus or rail is over and it just awaits for any of the various American lunatic groups to realize that they can Make A Point by detonating a bomb placed within a True Believer on an internal flight in the USA to put an end to the convenient hop on a plane air travel that I have been told for years is The American Way.

    The future is here .. we just haven’t quite caught up with it yet.

    Sorry to be so glum but I’d always vaguely thought of cheap and convenient air travel as being one of those things that I’d get around to one of these days and I now realize that I’ve left it too late.

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