The Plane Truth

by Rachel Gertz

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

I have a beef to pick with the whole damn flight industry. I know this is a pretty big beef, but it’s also been a while since I went on a big rant. And everyone loves a little bit of easy-humoured ranting. That’s why this will be a two-parter.

Part One: Airport Security

So let’s back up a day or two to the actual flight night. We booked our flights through Continental airlines using Kayak’s  fabulous flight service and were prepared to show up at 5am for a 7am flight. After living it up at the local hotel pool with Meagan  & Adam, we decided to pull an all nighter, since we’d be in transit for 8 hours. Nothing compared to a flight to Europe —I know. Still, we needed to test our constitutions.

So there we were, eyeing the backscatter machine suspiciously at 5:30am. You know the fiendish stories. We got through without incident: sans pat down or naked photo, if you can believe it. But you know me, the gears start turnin’ and I’m thinking to myself, since our freedom as human travellers is being compromised anyway, why don’t we be practical about all this? I couldn’t help myself.

So here it is; guts & glory.

We could save a ton of money if every passenger who successfully beats the mean machine dons a pair of surgical blues and feels up the one behind him. I mean, let’s be honest. The training required to successfully squeeze the bust or groin of a passenger for security’s sake is an act perfected by anyone over the age of fourteen. Self-security would also mean better sanitation. Since it’s been reported that standard practice does not involve a switcheroo of the old gloved digits per passenger, constant rotation would also ensure fresh gloves were used on each passenger thus avoiding the spread of creepies like MRSA and scabies

Then there’s the orders. The verbal berating could become more colourful as passengers independently decide the choice words they’d like to use. They could cajole men to take off those threatening belts (although I’m loathe to admit Calgary’s officers were actually smiling) and feel all the more powerful for saying so. The nominal cost of passenger participaction scarcely scratches the menial $14.50 wage of a TSA officer.

See the savings??

And while we’re on the subject of security, let’s also look at the backscatter itself. Although it’s been determined that the radiation levels emitted contain a fraction of the dangerous radioactivity of X-rays, it still makes sense that anyone who looks or smells like they have cancer should probably be sent right through it. See, they’ll receive a low dose of radiation to ward off those nasty replicating cells, and will . Frequent flyer bonus! Hell, while we’re sending susceptible cancer patients through, it might make sense to just usher anyone requiring a little see-inside through the infamous backscatter. You could have your dental X-rays & mammograms all at once. Bam.

Since I’m being honest, I think it’s also important that we address the issue of seeing the naked photos generated via the backscatter machine. I’m not one to complain, but I have seen some nasty leaked images displaying the junk of less-than-fit people. No one really wants to see jelly rolls on naked hips. Don’t worry, there’s only a minimum of 3500 images that got out to the public (despite claims that this was impossible). 

So, since we can’t prevent the photos from slipping onto the internet, why don’t we have a Photoshop wizard ‘shop the rolls out to make everyone feel a little sexier? You know, three year olds are body conscious too & no one thinks baby fat is sexy these days. Say, who wants to be the centre fold of Back Scatter Teen Edition 2011?

Well, we’ve gone this far. I might as well back myself into a corner even further. We’re already being asked to remove our belts, shoes, and spare change as we maneuver our way through the cattle gates. Don’t forget anything that could constitute a potential 100 millilitre bomb must be discarded. Thank god we can’t make a bomb with anything less than 100mL! I was feeling a little insecure there. 

So, let’s avoid all this mess. You thought I was going to say: just walk through security in your birthday suit, didn’t you? Hah. That’s too simple. 


The truth is: we should stroll the line patriotically singing our country’s anthem. Doing this will allow the TSA to effectively profile us without violating our rights. Everyone knows a good patriotic singer cannot be a terrorist. We can avoid the song & dance that is us awkwardly undressing in front of strangers like that 50 year-old prostitute from Guam. Just don’t get offended if you don’t know the words to your own anthem & you’re consequently detained.

That’s my take on the matter. Stay tuned for Part Deux.

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