Airplane Security, Anger And Common Sense

Like many U.S. citizens I’ve traveled several times since 9/11 including abroad and I’ve accepted whatever security measures were in place or oddities of the system–like the time an arm brace I had to sleep with was in a carrying tote and was singled out by the security guard who held the bag at arm’s length as if it was something repugnant and said in a rather accusing voice, “whose bag is this?” But today as I’m getting ready to go to Texas, I am angry. I will only have an hour to change planes in Houston. Were that flight to be a little late, it would be hard to transfer my bag to the other plane and I would be separated from it for who knows how long, since there is no guarantees if I have to take a later plane I would be on the same flight as my luggage. ‘Been there, done that, this has happened to me. The best thing to do, I believe, is to just wheel my little black bag on the plane with me. Maybe it’s best but it’s not easy. I was planning to take my sister, whom I am visiting, several food treats. She’s in a nursing home and isn’t able to have what she likes all that often. According to government security guidelines (, however, what I was planning on taking is a no-no. The pistachio halvah she is waiting for will not arrive with me. I had to mail it separately. The English lavender body lotion I wanted to give her is in a bottle that is way too big–over 3 ounces. All these packages are sealed and transparent, nevertheless, they are according to the rules, security risks. Maybe real terrorists would know how to blow up a plane with halvah and lavender lotion, I don’t think I’d know even if they taught me how.
Somewhere the rules have to make sense. There comes a point where the concept of security isn’t enough. There is need for a bit of common sense, and adjustments could be made. Couldn’t there be, for example, some supervisor on site to decide on iffy items, or be entitled to make decisions in context of the individual, the purpose for the trip and the like. Or, what about having certain items turned in to an airline attendant? In fact laws are continually being revised. In an effort to prevent would be sleeper cell terrorists from entering the U.S., people coming from countries like the U.K. where a visa isn’t required, will, as of next August, have to start registering. The need for that new law may be sad, but it seems wise. Why then couldn’t a little bit of wisdom be transferred to other areas of security, such as what can and cannot be taken on board.
I got angry today. Someone else got angry yesterday. And someone will get angry tomorrow. Normally anger is not constructive but as I was struggling with mine,I realized it was highlighting a problem, it was telling me something was wrong. With the experience of the last seven years the Homeland Security Administration ought to be better at serving the public. Rules that seem arbitrary, or that are based on fear and hold little if any common sense are not a way to build real security. The public has been accepting but in light of other constraints when traveling these days–late planes, crowded conditions–it may be a matter of time before people start asking a whole lot of whys?