New Security Measures Making Air Travel A Miserable Experience

CALGARY, Alberta – Sitting next to a Tim Horton’s donut stand and guzzling a cup of their delicious coffee, your Red Dirt Reporter has a few hours before the flight out of Calgary takes off for Denver and the connection takes me home to Oklahoma City.

And as I sit here staring out the window into the light falling snow, watching planes be de-iced, the experience I just had gives me a lot to ponder.

Just why do people put up with the absurd security measures imposed on us? They’re invasive and unnecessary. “We the people” are made to endure the insanity of government-imposed security measures. It was these same measures that allowed a major breach to take place as happened in Amsterdam on Christmas Day when Nigeria’s very own “crotch bomber” was allowed to board – with the help of the mysterious “sharp-dressed man” – and he proceeded to try and blow up his flight as it approached landing in Detroit. Your loving government doesn’t want you to know about the crotch bomber’s handler, the sharp-dressed man.

Moving on …

Some would argue that “safety” is imperative. I understand that reasoning but as I watch girls of the age of 9 and elderly women being groped and violated by complete strangers – in front of everyone – it strikes this liberty-loving individual to actively question just what the hell we are doing?

My traveling companion and I, spending the Christmas holiday here in Canada, were forced to endure the heightened security measures as we came through the Calgary airport. Arriving nearly four hours early, as we have been instructed for the past several days.  We got our baggage checked, after we were forced to stuff everything , except this very laptop computer, our iPhones, wallet and a book to read. Everything else had to be put in our bags and checked through onto Oklahoma City.

I should note that we had to go to a local mall, here in Calgary, and buy another suitcase in anticipation of what we would endure this morning. Good thing we did, otherwise some stuff would probably have been left behind.

All the while, I am thinking, ‘We have to be inconvenienced because of THEIR major security breach in Amsterdam.’ It’s as if this whole situation was allowed to happen so they can ramp up security measures so they can make our traveling experience more miserable and more unpleasant.

So, after being told we could not go through customs and security until 2.5 hours before our flight to Denver, we were forced to wait around. Eventually we got through and then we stood in line, waiting for our few items to be sent through the X-ray machine. This process took approximately half-an-hour. Canadian security authorities were clearly understaffed. Lines began backing up and our line, in particular, was exceedingly slow. The security officials were telling us nothing.

Up ahead, we could see people being thoroughly “patted down.” Women were patted down by women and men by men.

I got through the metal detector just fine. My zipper, thankfully, didn’t set it off. But it was the pat down (or as a TSA guy at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport jokingly called it as he felt me all over “a free body massage”) that really bugged me.

A beefy Canadian security guy told me to put my arms out like a common criminal and he proceeded to check me out – thoroughly. I was waiting for him to tell me to turn my head and cough. But seriously, “Garrett” (as he was identified on his nametag) patted me down all over. He checked down my pants, checked my crotch and racked me in the process and made me feel like I was about to be processed into prison. I mean, I had taken off my belt so my jeans were sagging. It’s as if we’re all being prepared to be sent to ye olde gulag.

After being violated by “Garrett,”  I went over to put my boots back on and grab my laptop, wallet and iPhone. However, a guy who reminded me of the actor Dave “Gruber” Allen, said “May I check your laptop?”

What could I say? No? He proceeded to swab my laptop. He put the swab in a machine and it was processed. Meanwhile, the Canuck rummaged through my wallet. Was I about to be robbed? What is this? I rolled my eyes and he checked the swab and I was cleared to take my stuff and move on.

Walking over to the Tim Horton’s stand to get my coffee and donut, I couldn’t help but think that the ever-expanding security state here in Canada and in my native United States is actively preparing us for further violations of our civil rights and our rights as humans to be treated with dignity.

One of my favorite writers, Christopher Hitchens, has a great column on the front page of Canada’s terrific National Post newspaper. Headlined “Fresh idiocies loading at gate: We fumble with security while terrorists fly high,” Hitchens notes that when it came to the asinine handling of the “crotch bomber” in Amsterdam “the watch list, the tipoff, the many worried reports from colleagues and relatives, the placing of the name on a “central repository of information” don’t prevent the suspect from boarding a plane, changing planes, or bringing whatever he cares to onto a plane.”

Indeed, Mr. Hitchens. Yet it happened and here we are. Being pawed over by sullen security folks who act as if they’re prison guards ready to put us all on lockdown if we dare question anything they do.

And yes, we have been on the slippery slope for much of the 2000’s.

Entering into 2010 and a new decade, I can’t help but wonder what inconveniences and horrors await the innocent majority of travelers who simply want to get from point A to point B.

UPDATE: We actually got on an earlier flight to Denver and made it to Oklahoma City earlier than expected. However, our bags were not on the flight, as we told they were. Had to scramble to get them in late at night. Interesting trip, to say the least.

About the author: Andrew Griffin is the editor of Visit the site here.