February 12, 2016

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Flying low

Published 10:55 am Thursday, March 21, 2013

Remember when air travel used to be fun?

Cmon, youre not that old, or maybe you are if you can remember the good old days when climbing aboard a jet didnt involve jammed flights with people who attempted to stuff overhead bins with everything they owned microwaves, television sets and soft-sided suitcases with enough stuff in them to allow the owner to change clothes twice a day for the next six months.

And, that trip to New York or Miami didnt involve going by way of Ogden, Utah, Little Rock or Cleveland (not that theres anything wrong with those places, theyre just not on the way to New York or Miami).

I know Im showing my age and general grumpiness in saying this, but this is one case where I believe the good old days really were better (it evens seems, in hindsight, that the skies were less turbulent, but possibly that is a figment of my imagination). However, regulation is not going to return, and over-stuffed aircraft and Im the only person on the plane passengers are here to stay.

Matters were only made more tedious after 9-11, when in the flurry of activity to make the homeland safer a new entity called the Transportation Safety Administration sprang up to secure airports and aircraft in ways previously unimagined. Suddenly, a traveler had to check in at least a couple of hours early to deal with the security checkpoints and the restrictions on carry-on items.

Weve had to adjust to much longer travel times and near strip searches, all to minimize the prospects of a terrorist or just plain nut job attempting to bring down a plane.

I can only speak for myself, but on balance, I havent found the restrictions to be intrusive, much less life altering. I really dont need a machete or a Glock 9 while flying, and can pack in my check-through (yeah, I still do that) luggage anything sharp that I might actually use, such as a pair of scissors or that souvenir baseball bat from the Louisville Slugger factory.

All of this is to say that I neither get nor am happy about the TSAs announcement that, as of April 25, my fellow flyers and I are going to be ample to amp up the sharp objects and blunt instruments.

Did I miss a worldwide agreement to end terrorist activity? Has al-Qaeda decided America isnt so bad after all, and that we can work out our differences over lattes at the downtown Kabul Starbucks?

The flight attendants who immediately expressed deep reservations over this new policy have it right: This is about passenger and crew safety in the Age of Terror and random bad acts, punctuated by the number of attempts to do destructive things on board aircraft since 9-11. We dont need golf clubs, lacrosse sticks, ski poles and knives even small ones in on-board luggage or those already bloated overhead bins.

If I have to get to Denver by way of Philadelphia, Id at least like to hope that Im not flying with someone who has both the will and the way to terminate my travel by the worst means imaginable.

TSA, I know youre just here to help, but this doesnt feel like being helpful.

Tim Capps is director of the Equine Industry Program in the College of Business at the University of Louisville. The writers views are his own; they do not reflect those of the university. He may be contacted at timothy_capps@yahoo.com.