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|| News Item: Posted 2001-11-26

Road Warrior: Traveling REALLY Sucks Now
By Mongo

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What the hell do we do now?

Since 911, I have traveled across the country on trips near and far. Through the United fortress hubs of LAX, SFO, Denver and Chicago, American's DFW, and Delta's Atlanta and Salt Lake City bases.

Know what?

We're f**ked!

(If the previous word is anything but "f**ked" then the "chief" rewrote this article to make it PC.)

Arriving in Chicago, the ticket line was a 45-minute wait with another hour to get through security. When I left Chicago, a day later, remembering how bad the lines were I made sure I got to the airport 3 HOURS EARLY.

Guess what?

I cleared check in AND security in LESS than 5 minutes!

At SFO the line for check in stretched from one end of the terminal back to the other, blocking access to the security screening area and causing mass confusion amongst the passengers. (What dumb shit came up with this style cue?) The security screening lines were split into two with an express line (no carry on) and a regular line. Problem was, you couldn't tell which line was which because all the lines seemed to merge with the ticketing and baggage check in lines.

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Denver was a ghost town. In and Out in an hour, even taking in account the train ride and slow baggage handling. I did get my SWISSTOOL (a high-end version of the Leatherman) confiscated. It's a no win situation. The security screeners tell you that your can go back to the counter and check your Leatherman, Swiss army knife etc. BUT the airlines are charging a $75.00 dollar excess baggage fee if you've already checked 2 pieces!

DFW another ghost town. Nobody upstairs, nobody downstairs, pulled right up and curbside checked my bags. Zipped right through check in and security in 10 minutes.

Salt Lake City was Boring, well just SLC, business as usual. Normal lines for check in, normal lines for security (normal to Mongo is get to the airport 1 hour early) I did watch with empathy though, a passenger sent back to the ticket counter by security with a set of tournament grade darts. The airline would NOT even let him check them through in a separate box as luggage.

LAX what a cluster fuck! A month ago you couldn't drive a private passenger car into the airport to pick up or drop off passengers, EVERYBODY screamed bloody murder. So the rocket scientists came up with a new plan that allows you to drop off and pick up at the interior parking structures.


Because the folks who run the parking lots still have the SAME number of collection booths, they can't handle the increased traffic and the line of cars zigzags up through 5 levels and back out to the traffic loop.

It took me almost an hour to drop off a photographer who was too cheap (ok maybe to poor) to take a taxi.

Atlanta, read the papers, didn't you see it on Network TV? (That was me, I'm always leaving my camera bag lying around)

At times, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the disparities in check in processing times or security screening procedures from airport to airport.

The only commonality seems to be the stupidity of some FAA directives and misinterpretation of those directives by the airlines.

No knives, nail files, scissors, clippers, or pizza cutters allowed in the airport?

Hmm let's see, if I was a terrorist, and I needed an edged weapon on board a flight? I dunno, maybe take a sharpening stone on the plane, unclip the seat belt from its anchor, go to the rest room and put an edge on the buckle?

Hey FAA, get a fucking clue. Taking over passenger aircraft and crashing them into buildings was a one trick pony. NOBODY is going to be stupid enough to try that again, because as soon as they stand up and try to make a move, they'll get the shit beaten out of them by the rest of the passengers.

Oh, my everybody's afraid to fly now.

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Well no shit, gee do you think the sight of BDU clad Guardsmen carrying around M-16's might have something to do with that? While we're on the subject, if I were one of Bin's boys, after clearing security, what's to keep me from sneaking up behind the Guardsmen, hitting them over the head with a fire extinguisher and taking their M-16?

Hey Manetta, quit wasting our time, and the taxpayer's money.

A smart and determined enemy with nothing to lose can and will penetrate any kind of security you create.

Nope, it's not that people are afraid to fly, it's that they're afraid of the HASSLE of flying.

It seems like every time I read a paper or turn on the TV, there's a story about a major airport being evacuated and shut down, because somebody breached security. Last week the screeners at SEA-TAC forgot to turn on the metal detector at their station. Everybody gets taken off their flight, everybody gets herded back out to the main terminal, and everybody gets re-screened. 3 hours wasted. (Just because you made them federal employees doesn't make them smarter)

That same day in down in Orange County CA. some lady got around the security screen and the same scene plays out again. Everybody gets taken off their flight, everybody gets herded back out to the main terminal, everybody gets re-screened. I really loved a sound bite where the National Guardsmen is telling everybody to form 2 lines, but as the camera pans around the terminal you can see every body is packed in elbows and assholes unable to move.

Oh no, the airlines are in financial trouble and need billions of dollars in aid to bail them out.

I've got a news flash for you, the airlines were in trouble BEFORE 911.

Late flights, delayed flights, canceled flights, with no information and an attitude of "keep'em in the dark" How about overbooked flights, overpriced flights, and reduced or no meal service? Need I say more?

The problems were so bad even before 911, that Congress made noises about passing a "Passengers bill of Rights."

Of course the airlines freaked out and said wait, let us try to fix things ourselves, and they tried to put on a new face and announce that they were improving for us and they would keep us informed.

Oh my god, it was like watching Phillip Morris trying to reinvent themselves.

Flights are still late, delayed and canceled. The only difference is now you get to see this information on big ass, wide screen plasma displays at the gate.

Flights are still overbooked and meal services even further reduced.

Thanks to 911 the "Passengers Bill of Rights" is on the back burner, probably to be shelved so no undue burden is placed on a flailing airline industry.

We're F**KED.

(Mongo Johnson is a frequent contributor to Sports Shooter, writing on travel-related issues. Johnson, not to be confused with Artie Johnson or Earvin "Magic" Johnson, is a travel consultant working out of a small houseboat in Coos Bay, OR.)

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