Air Security – Take Those Shoes Off Too, Please

I just returned from five weeks of travels last week, just a few before the latest air security madness originating out of England. However, as I am a frequent traveler, I monitor the latest “trends” in travel, and this morning stumbled across the latest TSA Requirement – namely shoes absolutely must be removed before going through security screening.

Mind you, shoe removal was something most folks already did at the request of TSA staff, but in the past flip-flops and thin shoes were more or less exempt. Not any more.

This, by itself, is not a big deal, but its just the latest trend in the on-going encroachment of our personal items and space by a bureaucracy that does not properly train its staff for accuracy, consistency, and efficiency. It’s all just a big charade to give people the sense of security.

In the meantime we cannot bring any liquids not already in our bodies through security, and then any we buy in a presumably secure (sterile) area need to be consumed before boarding. I can’t wait to see how long the bathroom line will be on my next flight from all the people guzzling their 32 oz. Super Sized Cokes before they boarded. I also wonder how much more responsive flight attendants will be when it comes to providing extra hydration for folks who normally travel with their own spare bottles of water (like myself).

And the poor people flying in or out of the U.K.! Having to give up their reading material, electronic gadgets, and just about everything else. I’m not sure what I would do with myself on a 6+ hour flight without anything to read, work on, or play on. I would need counseling after such mental deprivation. And, ironically, the TSA tells people not to check lap-top computers and electronics in their luggage, putting them in contradiction to the U.K. rules unless one is not to travel with their electronics any more. Goodbye business travel, and hello teleconferencing.

Worse yet is that some airports – and San Juan, Puerto Rico comes immediately to mind – have such poor baggage control that luggage-handling thieves regularly abscond with sizable amounts of electronics and photographical loot. This loot then appears on eBay, indicating the thieves got it out of a secure area. If they can get it out, can’t they also get stuff into such areas? If the TSA cannot ensure the sanctity of our bags once they are screened, what good are all these other security measures other than feel-good fluff?

I’m pretty convinced things will only get worse for U.S. air travel, and it will be little things – but lots of them. Shoes now, then anything with metal buttons or zippers, writing supplies (pens have ink, and that’s a liquid, right?), and ultimately clothes. Welcome to Naked Airways.

By the way, for a humorous take on the contraband liquids issue, take a look here.