TSA Zombies

It’s a quarter to five and I’m sitting in a near deserted airport.

I’ll get into Providence, RI a little before nine tonight. Airports are always depressing at this time of day. I hate to be here this early, but timing the traffic into LA is aways a crapshoot. Leave 45 minutes later and the traffic is bad and the rental car buses are late and the checkin lines are full and the “let’s pretend we have security” checkpoints are overwhelmed. I would rather be early.

Speaking of security checkpoints, I had to go through security twice. After check-in, I followed the signs for gate 61. Since Delta check-in is in terminal five, the signs say you can get to the 60’s gates by going through terminal five security into the 50’s and taking an underpass to terminal six. Which you can, unless they have it blocked for renovation. Which they do. Sigh. (Voice in head: “Stay positive. You have plenty of time. You need the exercise. I’m sure there really is a gate 61…” I retraced my steps, headed down to terminal 6, and prepared myself to go through security again.

How do you define poor design? How about this: you are in one of the highest volume airports in the world, there are two open security lines and three passengers (I was lucky number three), and it takes ten minutes to get through? I know the drill: shoes off and in a tote with the jacket and my federal regulation quart-sized clear plastic zip-lock bag-o-toiletries. Cell phone and laptop in another tote. (Do not stack items, they hate that!) Rollbag and backpack on the table and I have my little train ready for the xray tunnel. Until the guy in front of me needs a “bag check.” Which evidently requires them to fly in a specialist (he must have been coming into terminal five). None of the half-dozen TSA zombies standing about could be trusted with such a critical security measure. So I carry my little train over to the other security line. At which point the TSA zombie running that line calls for a check. I think this time the “perp” had 3.5 oz of shampoo. (Voice in head: stay positive. You have plenty of time…)

At least I can take comfort in the assurance that my toothpaste is not a threat to National Security.

UPDATE: about ten minutes after I got to gate 61, they announced a gate change. Flight 132 will now be leaving from … wait for it … gate 58. In terminal five. Sigh. (Voice in head: stay positive that these guys are idiots…)

Business idea: Airport Sherpas. Rent an experienced guide to help you navigate through the airport, understand the local customs, and carry your bags. If they can get a seventy year-old to the top of Everest, they should be able to get me to flight 132.

UPDATE II: I made it onto the flight.

It used to be that the process for boarding was based on efficiency. Other than first class and persons traveling with more than seven small children, they boarded the people in the back of the plane first and worked their way up to the front.

Now, your order of boarding is directly related to your economic value to them. First class? Group 1. Business class? Group 2. Prefered member? Group 3. Economy Plus upgrade? Group 4. Cheap seat in the back (41D)? Group 99.

Traveling by air is just not fun anymore. At least the flight is relatively empty. Hmmm. I wonder if there is a connection there?

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