A pilot refuses the “security” search: (Via Ace)

A Tennessee pilot who says he’s tired of being manhandled by security agents is waiting to see if he will lose his job because he refused a full body scan.

ExpressJet Airlines first officer Michael Roberts was chosen for the X-ray scan Friday at Memphis International Airport. The Houston-based pilot says he also refused a pat-down and went home.

The 35-year-old Roberts told The Commercial Appeal newspaper he wants to go to work and not be “harassed or molested without cause.”

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen says a person was turned away after refusing to follow federal security procedures but declined to say if it was Roberts, citing privacy considerations.

<sneer>Privacy considerations.</sneer> You know what that means, don’t you?

It means TSA no longer distinguishes between crew and passengers for “security” concerns! If the pilot of the frakken airplane is up to no good, searching him for pen-knives accomplishes exactly nothing — as soon as he sits down, he’s got umpteen tons, a good bit of it flammable and/or explosive, driven by thousands of horsepower to aim at whatever he wants to blitz. None of it shows up on a “full body scan”, either. I suppose there are dumbass levellers who think it makes sense in terms of “fairness”, but on any rational scale it’s just loony.

I used to travel a lot, and now that I can’t afford to any more I miss being in new and different places and meeting new people. What I don’t miss is airline “security”.

True story: Many, many years ago, when D/FW airport first opened (and still had the slash in the name), I had occasion to go somewhere — Atlanta, IIRC. At the time, my home was about 150 miles from the airport, and one thing and another kept coming up and keeping me from leaving to catch the plane. Zooming up I-20/I-35/TX-114 got me to the airport with minutes to spare. I parked in the inner part of the “D”, which in those days was the cheap slots — you had to walk over a hundred yards to get to the terminal! — grabbed my bags and went inside. The ticket counter for my flight was just on the point of closing, but I caught the clerk in time, confirmed my reservation, paid for the ticket (ouch!), gave her my bag, and half-ran ’round the end of the counter and across the concourse to the plane, whose attendant was just in the process of closing the door. She smiled, told me where my seat was, and shut the hatch as the engines spooled up, and I went and sat down just before the tractor pushed the plane back.

Total elapsed time, from shutting the car off to sitting down in the seat: under 10 minutes. And yes, silly wabbit, when I got to the claim carousel at Atlanta, my bag was there — first one off, in fact. That’s how DFW and its sister, Kansas City International, were supposed to work. That’s how they were designed to work.

Try it nowadays.

Most business travelers are people who make, or at least charge, good money. My billing rate when I was traveling — what the boss charged the customer; I got a good bit less — was $150 an hour. That means that every time I took a flight, somebody paid a minimum of $300 just for the two hours I spent getting through security. Since I then had to come home again, the client wound up paying a minimum of $600 per trip and got nothing of value for it except “security”. That’s a tax, folks, and the fact that cash doesn’t go anywhere is irrelevant.

Security isn’t the only thing dragging travel down; in the spirit of Dante, Niven, & Pournelle, when Don Carty dies I hope he spends eternity in Hell Air’s hub waiting for the connecting flight to Heaven that never comes. But adding a tax of two hours before and (often enough) an hour after to every airplane flight is a severe drag on the system, and accounts for a huge part of the losses and inefficiencies.

This incident simply adds to the impression I got when the Draconian security measures were first implemented: it’s all theater.

Originally, the “security theater” may have had some point. Real security cannot be accomplished by patrolling the perimeter, and searching passengers and bags is the very definition of “perimeter security”. But the people, the passengers taking the planes, had to be reassured that something was being done, and the dance at the checkpoints is impressive enough to calm most people — at least, the ones who don’t have any idea what the real issues are.

But the last few times I flew gave the impression, confirmed by this story, that convincing the ignorant passengers that security is on the job is no longer the point. The screeners all but smirk. WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT, they almost shout, AND YOU WILL BY GOD DO AS WE TELL YOU. I suppose it impresses some people, and when I was in the line I went along with the program like a good little sheep.

The people who matter don’t. They go by car, or by “fractional share” bizjet, if they can; the airlines don’t get their business, and the extra expense is another load on commerce that yields no return to society or anyone else. That fits with the rest of the recent policies of Government, all of which seem designed to grind this country’s business to a halt. TSA isn’t interested in providing security to air transportation; their mission is to strangle it.

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