Something smells about flying, but it could just be me

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

Having just gotten back through the rigors of travelling from Dallas, I feel compelled to write about how the government and airlines make travelling such a ridiculous mess.

After I finally got a cab with a man who must be in line to receive the Dallas Award for Bravery because the roads were icy, we arrived at the United Airlines terminal. I was able to check in via the kiosk thingy, but it was impossible to check in my daughter without human assistance. After a few head shakes at my request for help from the aforementioned human assistant, someone finally realized my kiddo was part of a travel group and I was able to check her in as well. Step one down. Or so I thought.

But then, my bag was overweight by 5 pounds because I wanted to limit the extra carry on stuff we had on the way down by putting everything into one suitcase. I was informed that unless I removed the 5 pounds of stuff, I’d have to pay a $125 surcharge for my luggage. Really? Because I hate to inform United, the plane still will carry the same amount of weight, I’m just carrying it on. So I took out my Dopp kit and my jacket. Another problem solved. Or so I thought.

After waiting about 30 minutes in a security line that stretched some 150 feet into the terminal while watching countless “special travelers” cut in line or skip it altogether, we finally arrived at the scanners. My kiddo breezed through, as did I. On to the gate! Or so I thought.

Turns out, grabbing my travel kit in haste was a mistake. I travel with a large plastic bottle of shower gel, my shaving cream can from home and a small set of clippers, scissors and nail file, just in case. Of course, the airport damned near went on high alert as I was flagged for a search of my kit. The TSA guy asked what I wanted to do with what he confiscated. The only answer, of course, was to say, “Just throw everything away that you take out.” I was tempted to ask for a receipt and smaller replacements, but timeliness and the fear of jail allowed my mind to do something rare, control my mouth.

I wanted to ask, “Does it make any sense that a father travelling with his almost 12-year old daughter fits the profile of someone looking to hijack a plane with tiny scissors while crafting a MacGyveresque-bomb out of shower gel and an almost empty can of shave cream?” But to a TSA that refuses to actually profile the kinds of folks who do those sort of things, the answer would be, “We don’t profile and we think everyone is potentially a terrorist (which makes sense as an entity of a government that tries daily to make everyone a terrorist, or at least a criminal), that way, the terrorists are treated fairly as well.” All of that followed by me being surrounded by large men while being escorted to a “room for my privacy” as I hear rubber gloves snapping in the distance proved my decision prudent.

So, obviously, confiscated from my travel bag were the nail kit, shaving cream and shower gel. Thank God. Now the plane was safe from me keeping up my hygiene should an actual hijacking occur, because my shower gel was now residing in some TSA employee’s shower in Dallas (I guess that’s better than me being in said shower with it). The other good news is that the TSA saved all of the passengers the option of receiving unlicensed pedicures and manicures should I choose to set up shop on the 45 minutes of flying between Dallas and Houston. So as far as the smell test goes on the TSA, it flunked the first

pit-wise and passed the second foot-wise.

Finally, all was well as our gate was the first one on the other side of the security checkpoint. It was then I discovered that my fellow cheer and dance parents had been texting me trying to tell me I was being paged over and over by United. I soon discovered why: They gave away my seat because the flight was “overbooked.” It appears I wasn’t checked in or something. Funny, since it had been an hour since I was checked in, and I was part of a group with my daughter that had been checked in as well. So how was I not checked in? Must be the kiosk doesn’t count. Or United was ticked I cheated it out of the extra $125 with my suitcase. Regardless, I wasn’t there, even though I was there.

Now I don’t know about you, but if I overbook and charge folks anyway in my business, I go out of business. I can’t extort ridiculous fees with ridiculous rules like United. I also can’t give special

skip-the-rubber-glove-guys access to folks who pay an extra fee. No, I actually compete in a marketplace.

I could get everyone on an airplane in about 10 minutes from being dropped off at the curb. Take the luggage and scan it like these folks already do. Check in. Give every adult boarding the airplane a Taser.

The first guy who yells “allahu akbar,” lights any part of their anatomy on fire or offers cheap pedicures gets it.