Dogs, Cats and Airport Security

Well, I’m back from a two-day trip to DC. And I’m still tethered to the treadmill. This is going to be a long winter. During the past two weeks, I’ve run in place for more than 20 miles — without actually moving much more than an inch. Hey, just like the queue at the Cleveland airport Monday morning.

In fairness, Cleveland Hopkins had been closed for most of Sunday because of a power outage. And I expect that many who were stuck on the ground Sunday jumped at the first chance to get out of NE Ohio Monday morning. The result: long lines in the early a.m. snaking through the security areas and, for me at least, a dash to the gate to make my flight. Wonder if I can add that distance to my running log? I digress.

Anyway, this isn’t a rant about security. No thinking person — even me — can object to reasonable measures to ensure a safe flight. But the reality is that any hiccup in the system anywhere along the way adds to the stress of what has become for me — and I expect many — an exceedingly unpleasant experience. C’mon. Do you enjoy flying these days?

And this is a challenge — let’s call it customer relations broadly speaking — that the airline industry and government officials are going to have to address. It’s a business issue linked to our fragile economy and economic recovery. Here’s from an article in USA Today, “For some, hassles dim the appeal of air travel“:

Just when travelers had gotten used to carrying miniature bottles of shampoo and walking through checkpoints without their shoes on, air security is being ramped up after a 23-year-old Nigerian man allegedly tried to set off explosives on a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day.

Some passengers are advised to arrive at the airport as much as three hours before their flights. Americans coming home from overseas may undergo a full-body frisk before they board. It’s up to the captains on international flights to decide whether passengers can go to the bathroom the last hour of their trip. And federal officials are planning to deploy hundreds of scanning machines that can peer through fliers’ clothes at airports across the United States.

The beefed-up security — plus already aggravating airline policies such as double- and triple-digit fees not included in ticket prices — raises the question: Is flying worth the hassle?

Is flying worth the hassle? We’ll see. But if the answer turns out to be no, it will ripple through the economy.

Oh, and about the dogs and cats.

In Cleveland, a woman in front of me proceeded through security carrying a small dog. In DC at Reagan National, a man behind me was holding a cat. That struck me as being somewhat odd — as I was removing my shoes, trying to keep my coat and bag moving forward, praying that I wasn’t taking more than three ounces of shampoo, and figuring out what to do with my computer and so on.

Let’s hope the experience was less stressful for the dog and cat.

Go figure.

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