I went through security at the airport in Dublin behind someone with a bottle of water. I didn’t even have to take off my shoes. On board the flight to Frankfurt, a Lufthansa flight attendant armed me with a metal butter knife. I had to resist the sudden temptation to rush the cockpit with my new found power.
Landing in Frankfurt for the connection to my Washington flight I had to clear security again. This time, I had to chug the water I bought in Dublin, remove my shoes and get wanded, just like every other passenger on the U.S.-bound flight. Within the sterile, enclosed holding area, the Coke machine was off limits due to TSA regulations.
Did any of this make me feel safer than on the flight to Frankfurt? No. I just felt hassled and inconvenienced. (And thirsty.)
Over the years, the government has convinced the public that inconvenience equals security. It does not. It makes for stories on TV that the government is doing everything it can to protect the public. But it’s merely a show that masks the inaction of the TSA on real security measures.
The recent so-called “security measures” are full of exemptions. Liquids and gels are not allowed, except when they are. You can have medication, but only if the label on the bottle matches the passenger’s name. (As if there were a standard, forgery-proof format for labels.) You can bring milk on board if you’re traveling with a baby. (Terrorists would never use a baby in a plot.) You can’t bring your own alcohol on a plane, but you can buy it from the duty-free store.
And never mind that the government has known about the threat of liquid explosives for more than a decade.
On board the United flight to Washington, I was given a business-class amenity pack that included toothpaste and body butter – items that would be confiscated if I were connecting to another flight and going through security checks a third time.
These regulations are put in without any assessment of their cost to society. Every hour we spend waiting in line at the airport is a drain on productivity and leisure. Over the course of a year, I’ll spend more than two work weeks in time lost due to these fake security measures. That’s a cost of thousands of dollars shared by me and my employer.
It’s a system run by politicians who prefer show over substance.
At the same time that uniformed TSA screeners on the front lines are confiscating toothpaste and water bottles, unseen bureaucrats are cutting research and development spending for devices that can detect explosives. The government continues to allow unscreened cargo and mail on to those same planes. These get little attention, because the public doesn’t see them.