Flight 253


Seriously rethinking any future flights into the United States in the foreseeable future these days. The Speedo Bomber’s thwarted attempt to deliver a Christmas present to the American people in the form of mangled bodies and jetliner debris has caused the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to go above and beyond American expectations of reactionary backlash.

The latest word is that no one flying into the U.S. from Canada will be permitted carry-on luggage. There will be pat-downs at the security check-in as well as manual searches of briefcases, purses and diaper-bags, which will still be allowed, and these items will be searched again when passengers are molested again at the departure gate.

Because check-in’s were taking so long (7 hours on Boxing Day in Toronto for example), the RCMP was called in to provide assistance. That’s correct. They called in the Mounties, who have a troubling history of tasing people without cause.

It is no surprise to my dear readers that I hate to fly into the U.S. and that border crossing by air or land put me in a Fox Mulder frame of mind. I see grassy knolls. But the prospect of standing meekly (because they will be watching for anything un-sheeplike) in line for hours just to be treated like a criminal and then packed into an uncomfortable seat where it is very likely that all forms of distraction for me and, more importantly, for child will be forbidden just makes me wonder, what is so great about the U.S. that I couldn’t live without visiting for the next – say – five years.

Okay, family. But they can come here. Nothing prevents them but lack of passport and it’s still possible down there to easily obtain passports. But otherwise?

Empty laps. How does one manage an empty lap for several hours in such cramped quarters? I’ve read reports that babies and books were prohibited from obscuring perfect lap view. No books? Keeping America safe from what? Knowledge?

According to the current administration, it will be up to the pilot to determine what is or isn’t okay. So if the pilot is having a bad hair day or is just a prick normally, welcome to hell in the air? It’s already not that great. And what qualifies the pilot to make such decisions?

I should be more concerned about safety, you say? I am a bit jaded on the safety thing. Speedo Bomber shouldn’t have even made it on the first plane out of Nigeria let alone the second one out of Amsterdam. If I were inclined to get all conspiracy theory I’d say that the U.S. government let the guy through hoping he would lead them to a terrorist cell somewhere. His being in Detroit with a bomb in his undies wasn’t something they considered. They risked peoples’ lives on purpose. But that’s my cynical side talking.

Ben Franklin is often quoted in situations like these because he once said something about people who willingly trade freedom for safety deserve neither. The Founder Fathers, not exactly the greatest group of guys ever, would simply not understand the wimpy people who inhabit the free nation that they risked everything to create. We are like aristocrats bred out to a point that we are barely able to think or do for ourselves anymore.

Next up will be full body scanners. Rob tells me that the radiation they emit can disrupt DNA. Are you going to walk through it when the time comes? It is coming. Or will you opt for the wand, the rough handling and possibly missing your flight for being a troublemaker?

I think we should all just pick a day and designate it for flying naked. Or plane loads of people should refuse to put away iPods. What would happen to the draconian assault on passengers if Air Marshals were suddenly having to arrest every passenger on dozens of flights for refusing to give up blankets and pillows? The blanket thing is funny in light of recent stories about flight attendants coming unglued by breast-feeding mothers. That will be even more interesting in the future. And more ridiculous.

A high school friend on Facebook thinks there should be profiling, and he thinks I am too much of a liberal to agree with him. I don’t see anything wrong with targeting demographics for extra scrutiny except for one thing. It wouldn’t stay in airports. It wouldn’t be implemented in a thoughtful or courteous manner. And eventually, it would be turned back on the average person and we’d be right back where we are now.

Unless it’s the most dire of emergencies, we are done flying into the U.S. Land crossings have the potential to be painful, but at least I won’t be trapped in an airport without clothing, toiletries or a means of stepping outside to scream in an attempt to find my zen place.