Friday, July 1, 2011

TSA rant!

The first thing I have to say is SHAME ON THE TSA!!!
Your pick!
I didn't need to watch the news in the past two days to know that we are NOT safer when we fly, even with all the stupid changes they have done in the TSA over the last years that have literally turned the experience of traveling by plane into a real nightmare.
First was the 95 year old grandma pat down humiliation incident , then, it was the NIGERIAN MAN WHO BLEW PASSED JFK's TSA SECURITY .


Yeap, they check inside babies diapers too!

I remember a time I used to enjoy traveling by plane, I know, that was a long time ago, we were served decent meals and were able to use real silverware, then we got nice pillows and blankets to take a nap after your meal, your seat reclined well and you had better leg room.
Now, we eat with plastic forks that break in two when you try to slice your lasagna, no pillows and forget about blankets. Unless you get an upgrade to Business or First Class, than, just than my friends, you can pretend it's 1988 again. Just remember not to light up a cigarette, those ashtrays on the edge of your armrest have been screwed shut, and that is also a good reminder that American Airlines hasn't upgraded their fleet since the 80's when people used to be allowed to smoke in the Airplane cabins and had an ashtray in every seat.
Now, I get tense, every time I know I will have to fly, I get in a bad mood, even when I am flying First or Business, which happens only when I am traveling for work, unless I get lucky and get a system wide upgrade, I even dream with those before I fly, oh, the anxiety.
Who the hell can afford U$6,000.00 to fly from Boston to Sao Paulo or U$3,000.00 between Boston and Los Angeles. I'd rather renovate my downstairs bathroom and repave my driveway in the summer, thank you very much!




There was a time when the only concerns we would have when flying was if we were lucky enough to sit away from screaming children and the occasional smoker, but that was a calculated risk, you knew if you got lucky and got an up grade to Business and First, you would be home free from children and we were kind of used to the inconvenience of the occasional smoker in the seat ahead of us anyway.
Nowadays, besides the fact that your seats only do a symbolic recline, it doesn't actually move, your leg room has been reduce by a third of what it used to be and flight attendants behave like mafia thugs with a bad attitude.
I am so afraid of flight attendants nowadays that I always agree with anything and everything they say and always, always smile and apologize to them, even if I didn't do anything or didn't understand what they are saying, no kidding, I've seen people been thrown off the plane because they didn't turn off their freaking blackberry when the THUG flight attendant told them to, I don't want to have a criminal record because I forgot to turn off my cell phone, so I remove the battery and put the phone away in my carry on, I've gotten in trouble before because my phone turned back on by itself.
I was on a Continental flight between Houston and Guadalajara, Mexico and my blackberry might have accidentally turned back on by itself, how did I find out? My phone rang when we were flying over Monterrey, Mexico. I had no idea, but the cell phone towers in Mexico allow you to have signal inside the Airplanes. In the US, after 9/11, they turned off the Cell Phone Tower signals going upwards, so the people can't use cell phones inside airplanes, but I found out the hard way, that NOT IN MEXICO, yeap, your cell phone signal will have all the bars if you are flying over MEXICO, just keep in mind that if you are flying with an American Airline company, they will still treat you like a criminal and throw you in the terrorist category for having your phone ring during a flight, so, I suggest you go the safe route and remove your Blackberry's freaking battery, better be safe than sorry.
Now, with all the hysteria surrounding flying nowadays, I perfectly understand how the Nigerian THUG went passed security with a fake Michigan University ID and a stolen Boarding Pass from a WRONG DATE, WRONG NAME and WRONG FLIGHT NUMBER, I can see that happening easily, because that ALMOST happened to me.
I was flying from Boston to Sao Paulo last year, thanking the sweet baby Jesus for a system wide upgrade, I checked in at the FIRST CLASS counter, where there are less people, the American Airlines First Class Counter Clerk gave me a WRONG BOARDING PASS, with the WRONG NAME and WRONG SEAT NUMBER, I didn't notice anything wrong. I admit partial fault for not paying attention. I was in a little hurry to get to the "Admirals Club Lounge", take advantage of my complimentary "Dry Martinis" and get comfortable :)
So, after I passed the security guard that flashes the magic BLUE LIGHT WAND over my Massachusetts Driver's License, took off my shoes, took off my over coat, sweater, laptop, blackberry, wallet, belt and re-assembled myself on the other side of all the metal detectors and the "new" sophisticated "GE" scanner that blows a jet of air on your to detect explosives and gives you a little "healthy" ;) dose of radiation. I stand up, grab my boarding pass just to check what gate I was supposed to go, just THEN I realized I had the WRONG BOARDING PASS, those bastards at the American Airlines First Class Counter PRINTED THE WRONG BOARDING PASS, with a different name, and WRONG SEATING ASSIGNMENT, I am so paranoid about getting my upgrades and making sure I fly FIRST CLASS that I didn't even realize that 3 different security check points MISSED the mistake, NOT JUST ME.




So, I walk ask a TSA agent for the HEAD OF SECURITY, when I see the man, I tell him, look, they printed me the WRONG BOARDING PASS!!! He opened his eyes like he was seeing ELVIS ALIVE in front of him!! He grabbed the WRONG BOARDING PASS from my hands, started mumbling something I couldn't possibly understand on his "Walkie Talkie" radio.
He called a Massachusetts POLICE OFFICER to escort me back to the American Airlines counter and have the proper BOARDING PASS printed, keep in mind I had already waited at the security check line for 40 minutes and would have to go back to the end of the line and go thru the gruesome process all over again.
When I arrived at the American Airlines counter, no apologies, no excuses, they were all behaving like I DID SOMETHING WRONG!!!! :(
But as an experienced traveler that I am, I kept my mouth shut, smiled all the way, prayed that they wouldn't downgrade me to coach and went back to the security screen line like a little lamb.
To add insult to injury, I was again mistreated my the security guard with the MAGIC BLUE WAND, and all the other retards at the TSA screening area.
SO MUCH FOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS!!!!

You don't know how many times I have felt like doing this! :)
What good is it to remove your shoes, throw away your bottled water, your shampoo and your toothpaste if these bastards are not PAYING ATTENTION on what they are doing.
I can totally see how the Nigerian THUG picked up on their security gaps and blew thru TSA officers at JFK and LAX.
Forget all this crap, PROFILE, PROFILE, PROFILE the HELL out of passengers, can we please put our American political correctness spirit aside just this once, when our lives depend on it! PLEASE!!!!
My blue haired 95 year old grandma from a small town in Oklahoma, called Betty Smith, is NOT GOING to be a security threat.
Your dumb TSA agents who don't pay attention to what they are doing WILL, every time.

Need I say more! I love google images! :)
Talk to the security agents from the Israel airports, ask them "how politically correct' they are!
They will give you a crash course on racial profile, religious profiling etc.
They interview the hell out of people they profile"think" might pose a threat, no, they don't pat down the 5 year old girl and the humiliate the 95 year old grandma into removing her adult diaper, they interview suspicious individuals, you know, people who are sweating a lot and look nervous, people who might have affiliations with radical religious Muslims, and any one else who might be a real threat to all of us.
I am not saying we should profile and pick on Muslims, but we should profile on any specific group that have radical ideas and might try to harm the rest of us, include in this category: the neo-nazis, the anti-government cults, anyone associated with the Westborough Baptist Church crazies who protest at soldiers funerals, hell, I would even throw in the people who protest in front of abortion clinics, why not! They look crazy enough and pose a threat to society if you ask me.
God help us all, our guardian angels must be working overtime, that's for sure, meanwhile, I am going to drive or take the train EVERY CHANCE I GET!
Rant over!

Travel safe, and have a great 4th of July weekend :)

Ray

27 comments:

The Reader said...

Rant away, Ray.

We actually had a TSA agent in Denver refuse to check our passports for the 5 of us, because we handed them to him -gasp!- All Together. So, one stack of 5 boarding passes, one stack of 5 passports, for him to open, flip through and match names on each document. Nope, he couldn't do it and insisted we stop and match up boarding pass with passport.

He made a HUGE deal out of having to verify that every.single.name. matched document to document.

When we finished, he then made us each go through separately (each child had to physically hand the TSA agent his own passport) -- and then to top it all he did not even actually READ the boys' passports. Looked at their boarding pass with name/destination, asked "what is your name?" of each one of them and then "And where are you going?" of them. (dear tsa dude, my 6 yr old does not know where he's going except for "grandma's house"....pretty sure that is not printed on the boarding pass). He did not once, not a single time, open and look at the name on their passports or the photo to verify they were who they said. AFTER he had made such a fuss.

So, yes Ray, rant away.

Meredith said...

We just flew from Orlando to NY (via Philadelphia) last week and had no problem. We had to remove our shoes, but that's normal. We walked through the x-ray machine like always, picked up our belongings, and were on our way. Just like always.
On our way home it was the same except that the TSA agent rubbed something on my husband's hands (for what she couldn't tell him when he asked). Hmmmm.

Anyway, our flights were like every other time we've flown. No rub downs, no questions, no crazy machines.

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Reader,

I don't like negative rantings, but sometimes is just too much and I think sharing my experiences with others helps.
At least I hear other people's experiences and realize I am not the crazy one, the TSA really is pushing the envelope when it comes to inefficiency and harassment. :)


Ray

Greg said...

Welcome to the NWO. Your papers please Herr Ray. This is what the US has evolved to. It sucks....

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Meredith,

I fly an average of 4 times per month, that is roughly once a week, my main destination is Boston-Los Angeles, which is a torture of a 6 and a half hour flight, when I am lucky enough to be on a non-stop flight, if I have a layover, it can be up to a 10 hour ordeal.
I also travel the Boston-London route, about once a month, and I have to agree with you, that most of the time, I am not harassed by anyone, besides the usual removal of shoes, laptop, belt, suit jacket, liquids... etc, the problem is the more you travel, the bigger your chances for mishaps, this is my predicament... :(
Trust me! I dream with the day I don't have to travel so often anymore, and if I do, I hope it's for pleasure, not work.
The biggest problem I see with the TSA is the human factor, it doesn't matter how many things they bar from passengers carrying into planes and how many scanners we go thru, it all comes down to a simple equation, the TSA agents are poorly trained, poorly paid and I think there is little anyone can do about it, because having highly trained, highly paid TSA agents would mean a significant increase in air travel costs...

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Yes, Greg, you don't know how much I pray for Obama to succeed with his "high speed Rail" plans :)

SN said...

Feel your pain Ray. For me I either glide right through the check points or I get harassed. Most of the time I just prepared to shut my emotions off and go with the flow. Nothing I say or do will help the situation!

Although I do have to say when I received the last intense body search (I opted to go through the regular detector since I am pregnant) it made me really uncomfortable even though the lady was very professional and nice. The whole running the lines of my bra in the front was what got me :)

Sara

Meredith said...

Understood....

Now I'm getting worried as we're moving to Brazil in a little over a week and we have 8 suitcases, a cat, 2 carry-ons, and 2 personal items...

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Sara,

It must be a tense situation to have to fly while pregnant and then have to be searched, but that is probably better than having to go thru the radiation with your baby, no good choices, I think that first picture pretty much defines the situation for people having to fly!

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Nah, Meredith, you guys should be fine!
I honestly think flying International is much better than flying domestically. I think they have the better trained professionals on the international routes.
And if you are flying American Airlines, they have their newer Airplanes on the international routes anyway, and most of the other Airlines have newer airplanes anyway.
I think TAM Airlines and Continental have the most upgraded vessels.
The good news is that you can take Sebastian in the cabin with you guys, that is a huge upgrade comparing to someone who has a dog that is too big for the cabin like we do. We are pretty tense about the day we will have to take our dog to Brazil with us.
Have a great trip, hope you get TSA agents in a good mood on your travel day! :)

Ray

Meredith said...

Let's hope so (crossing my fingers :). We're flying with TAM so I'm hoping for a decent experience. Should be much better than our flight back from NY with United where the tray was broken and the plane from NY to DC looked run down.
I'm so glad Sebastian can sit with us in the cabin; the vet gave us sedatives for him :).

Ray and Gil said...

Meredith,

TAM has new, modern, upgraded Airplanes and superior customer service, you should be fine with that.
It's so cool that you can take Sebastian in the cabin with you guys. They are no longer recommending sedatives for pets traveling in the "cargo" area of Airplanes, but in your case it should be ok.
It sounds like you are all set for a great trip.



Ray

Anonymous said...

"I am not saying we should profile and pick on Muslims"
Yeah, right, you are not saying that.
You sound like a Republican "I´m not racist, I have a coloured man working at my house and I treat him really well"

"we should profile on any specific group that have radical ideas and might try to harm the rest of us, include in this category: the neo-nazis, the anti-government cults, anyone associated with the Westborough Baptist Church crazies who protest at soldiers funerals.."
Right, that´s really smart. Should people have to fill a form telling the TSA if they are neo-nazis? Or you just check if they have tatoos in their arms?

Right, let the terrorists know that, for example, middle-aged white women have a free pass. After all, they can´t find someone who looks like that.

Anonymous said...

Ray, just imagine if this situation ocurred in the future:
A group of gay people gets tired of the discrimination against gays, and starts practicing terrorist acts.
This leads to an increase in the discrimination against all gays. TSA starts to PROFILE the HELL out of gay passengers.
Would you still be in favor of profiling?

Meredith said...

Ray, it's nice to read good comments about TAM; I haven't flown with them in years.
So far the customer service over the phone has been good, but what's been better is that I consistently hear the same thing from them regarding policy and whatnot. I don't want to hear different things and different times and so far so good.

Ray and Gil said...

Anonymous,

You are correct. I shouldn't have written that, I meant we shouldn't pick on Muslims, you know, be unfair, if you see a Muslim guy who travels often, has no ties to radical groups or organizations, we shouldn't harass him every time he travels, once you interview him, find out a little about he guy, let him on his way and make sure to mark him down on the computer as a normal person.
I shouldn't have used the word profile, because I am actually in favor of profiling, sorry if I didn't make myself clear.
I think we should profile the hell out of every and any group with ties to radical ideas, be that the neo-nazis, the radical Muslims or Radical Baptists.
PROFILE, PROFILE, PROFILE, they are not fair with us, why be politically correct with them!


Ray

Ray and Gil said...

If the gays became terrorists!!
That is like saying "if a group of lactating mothers became terrorists to demand the right to breast feed in public"!
Trust me! It just wouldn't happen, first of all, gays are a very peaceful people, gays are usually smart, hard working and earn high degrees in school and hold great jobs, gays have great lives and live their lives to the fullest, gays have it almost perfect, yes, there is still some way to go, and we are getting there, but, trust me, gays are too smart to became terrorists, unless they started bombing the hell of places with glitter, hey, some gay group is already doing that, see, what did I tell you, that is the closest to terrorists my people will get, we will glitter the hell out of EVIL, HOMOPHOBIC candidates like Patenti, Michelle Bachman, Sara Palin and other idiots roaming the face of the earth for money and attention.
BUT! If for some crazy reason a group of "off the charts" butch lesbians formed a terrorist group, yes, I am all for it, PROFILE the HELL out of all gays. Draw a pink triangle on the arms of the 'terrorist gays" we catch in the act...I will be the first one to support the initiative ;)

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Me, a REPUBLICAN! HA, HA, HA, HA!!!!
Do you wanna make me laugh so hard I will pee in my pants and have stomach cramps...
NO WAY JOSE!
Not a drop of Republican sentiment in me, I think I was found of Republicans for about 5 minutes during high school, you know, when I was studying about President Lincoln, but then I understood they just wanted to free the slaves so they could work on the factories, have salaries and consume more products and make them richer.
So, no in any other part of my entire 40 years of life I was fond of any Republican or Conservative ideas.
First of all, I have always been a Social Liberal, just because it is the fair way to treat people and the right thing to do.
If you pay attention, you will realized that all the UBBER CONSERVATIVES are wolves in sheep's clothing, Priests who abuse little children, Conservative Congress man who have sex in public bathrooms (gag), Anti-gay Conservatives who are flaming Queens and pay male prostitutes to travel with them while they leave wife and kids at home.
No, I am not a Republican, not a Conservative and have been recently super pissed off at Democrats too for no having balls to stand up for what they believe and selling themselves (and us) short for powerful interest groups.
So, you can't call me a Republican, you can't call me a Democrat, because I am so far to the liberal left, Democrats are too conservative for me.
Not to mention the THUGS with have in Congress at the moment representing the WEALTHY AND POWERFUL and trying to stick it to the middle class and the poor.
These freaking bastards might just drive this great country into a 3rd world status. They are working hard at it. Moving companies out of the country and screwing the middle class left and right, the fastest way to make the US a weak nation.
NO, I am not a REPUBLICAN, gee!!!
But, please, don't get me wrong, you comment is welcome here anytime, if you agree with me or not.
Yes, I am for profiling. I think profiling will make us safer.
Take care
Thanks for you comment.

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Meredith,

You know, honest to God, in my opinion, every freaking Airline sucks nowadays.
You have the LESS bad ones, it's almost like politicians, most of them suck, you usually end up choosing the less horrible one.
Among the Airlines TAM is of the best for many reasons, first, their people tend to be more friendly, but you never know, you can always find a crazy flight attendant, let's just pray you don't, and your chances are smaller at TAM.
Second, they have awesome new Airplanes, an individual TV screen, if you are a typical American I know the word "individual" sounds like music to your ears ;)
TAM is attentive to details, they will give you a complete little toilet kit with toothpaste and toothbrush, ear plugs, comb, hand moisturizer, yes, even if you fly coach. Good luck getting anything close to that in any other Airline.
But I think the toothbrush, toothpaste kit is because us Brazilians have an obsession with brushing teeth and flossing ALL THE TIME! :)
They have better meals, their breakfast is awesome.
I think it will be a better experience than if you flew American or United, no doubt.
The only thing I would have to complain about TAM is that I thought their seats had a little less leg room. That is why and only why have been putting up with American Airlines for so many years, their coach does have a little extra leg room. I am tall, so that counts a lot for me.
If you guys are on the shorter side, you should be fine.
Regarding the rules, you should be fine, just make sure and call again and again and confirm details and take note of names of customer service operators, their numbers and the time you spoke with them. That will help a lot if you happen to find a distracted person telling you a different rule.
If there is one thing I learned about Airlines is that people pick and choose rules they want to enforce. So make sure to get more than one confirmation about a certain rule, such as something about Sebastian for example.
I think you have everything in order to have a great trip.


Forte abraco
Ray

Ray and Gil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray and Gil said...

Oops, sorry for all the typos.

Anonymous said...

Ray, I like your posts, but I think you are wrong in this one.
There are a few terrorists among millions of Muslims. If you think it would be reasonable to interview all of them, those who want to discriminate blacks and latinos can also find numbers to support their feelings. Are you also in favor of racial profiling by the police?
I don´t like these words, not because I´m politically correct, but because I think it´s very sad to be a victim of them.

dictionary results:

pro•fil•ing –noun
the use of specific characteristics, as race, religion or age, to make generalizations about a person, as whether he or she may be engaged in illegal activity.

prej•u•dice –noun
unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

dis•crim•i•na•tion –noun
treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit

Ray and Gil said...

Anonymous,

I am more on the pragmatic side, off course there are an infinite small numbers of Muslims who are terrorists, but it's worth to remember that a large majority of terrorists are Muslims.
If you have to check the security of a group of people, let's say, a flight for example, you might have 150 people, maybe 3 Muslims among them, I wouldn't waist my time turning 95 year old grandma Henrietta from Kansas inside out. I would certainly watch closely the young Muslim men traveling back and forth to Pakistan, pull them aside and ask them a ton of questions.
I respect your opinion, you are actually with the majority of Americans, who are politically correct, sorry, I am not.
So, according to your line of thought, we will be turning Aunt Jemina and Betty White upside down and humiliating them into removing their adult diapers while the young Muslim men from Pakistan will be strolling back and forth to Pakistan, laughing behind our backs.
It's not practical, but it is our reality. You think I am wrong. I think your way is a waste of time and money, let's agree to disagree.
God help us, because the TSA clearly can't...

Ray

Born Again Brazilian said...

It is insane. Flying out of Chicago, every single time they would check my daughter's bottle when flying out of Chicago. Yet, no where else we flew did they think to do that.
I knew we weren't safer when we arrived at home with my parents who had flew into New York from Chicago, and my father pulled a KNIFE out of his carry-on. He had used it to slice his apple and had forgotten to take it out, he says. (Though, that story sounds kind of suspicious, I think he just put it in there to see what would happen...)

Ray and Gil said...

B.A.B,

Exactly, they waste time with toddlers like your daughter and I just don't want to think what and who goes thru because they were busy wasting time with people who obviously pose no threat to the rest of us.
The Israel Airport security team are so well trained, they spend 3 minutes with each passenger, asking questions, they got so good with it, that those 3 minutes are enough to identify a possible issue with someone.
My whole point with this post is that we could/should be more smart about it and less politically correct, why not? The terrorists are not worried about being politically correct at all, hell, they even kill their own when they practice their despicable acts.
I still have hopes that we will get smart about this whole process.
I am the eternal optimistic :)


Ray

Jana @ Paper plains said...

I was so disgusted to see what happened to that old lady, I mean really what kind of human are these people? I have had plenty of moments with them to, I really really hate flying. If the flight is on time and I get my suitcase its like wining the lottery and something about that just doesn't make sense!

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Jana,

I hear your pain, and totally agree with you. It was disgusting to see what they did to the older lady and the diaper situation.
I am serious, I take a tranquilizer as soon as I get on my seat, and tell the flight attendants I will be sleeping and to please not wake me up during the flight, for meals or anything. I put my mask on, ear plugs and take a half a valium or a similar tranquilizer. I usually wake up when the plane lands.
I have dinner before I get on the plane and have breakfast when I arrive, this is the way I have found for a better flight. :)
By the way, has American returned your luggage yet? I hope they have by now.

Ray