Friday, December 24, 2010

So These TSA Guys...

As a certain airline pilot recently said:

[A]irport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here.
I saw the truth of this first-hand the other morning while making a connection at Memphis.

I'd never flown through Memphis before. Our sleepless red-eye flight got in early that morning, and several things struck me right away. Like how narrow Terminal B is, with the smallest seating areas for each gate that I can ever remember seeing outside a small-town airport serviced by propeller-driven puddle-jumpers. And the scent of BBQ that seemed to be everywhere, even though the time was well before 8 AM. (Then again, having been awake since 7 AM the previous morning, BBQ has never smelled so good.)

What really floored me, though, was how the Memphis TSA had somehow zeroed in on the true danger to those planes about to leave. Forget the full-body scanners. Forget the thoroughly thorough pat-downs. Forget the three ounces of liquid in individual containers all held within a single clear bag. The real threat, apparently, came from bottles of water and/or Snapple that travelers had bought inside the supposedly secured security area behind all the other layers of security that everyone had already gone through.

Truthfully, the sight of several TSA agents setting up yet another security point the next gate over from ours didn't even phase me -- at least until the announcement that they would be checking liquids those travelers had bought maybe ten minutes ago, and maybe twenty or so feet away from the gate itself.

As one weary traveler I overhead commented, "Shouldn't these bottles be checked, ah, before they get stocked and sold inside the security zone?"

One would think. But more and more, the TSA just seems to be doing things (and often very expensive things) simply to appear to be doing something. And on this particular morning, security theater has never seemed so... theatrical...