I fly infrequently and almost always for personal reasons, though the looming drums of business trips are not ever very far off. That means I frequently fly with members of my family. After purchasing tickets a few months ago for a recent trip, I started reading about TSA's new safety procedures at the airport checkpoints. Suffice to say I was none-too-pleased with what I read, even after factoring in the general exaggeration and panic that sets in around such things.
We were fortunate. Neither I or my daughter were subjected to anything other than the standard metal detector in either direction, even though we witnessed full pat downs in progress at both the security checkpoint and at the boarding gate. (Think you're out of the woods once you get through security? Think again. The blue-gloved ones are now doing more frequent gate checks.)
After the experience, I felt compelled to write to Southwest Airlines. Here is a copy of the letter:
P.O. Box 36647 1CR
Dallas, TX 75235
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to thank the crews and staff of Southwest Airlines for making my most recent trip a comfortable, pleasant and an overall enjoyable experience. I am continually impressed by Southwest’s ability to present a consistent and best-in-class product. If I were to fly by choice and for personal reasons, I would consider Southwest first above all other airlines.
But it is with regret that I write this letter informing you of my intention not to fly voluntarily again on your airline or any other. Though Southwest Airlines has proven itself to be an exemplary carrier, the experience with airport security and the TSA have soured my travelling experience as a whole.
The latest TSA procedures that include the full body scanners and “enhanced” pat downs are demeaning, invasive and in many cases, dangerous.
I have a 4-, nearly 5-year old daughter who is just now grasping the concept of what appropriate touching by strangers entails. Explaining to her the process raised both our anxiety levels to something I don’t consider healthy for either of us. It was bad enough trying to guide a child through the security process at airports these days without the pressure of the new security methods, but this has finally caused me to rethink my willingness to fly.
In their latest push to appear effective, the TSA has finally overstepped its bounds and has embraced procedures that subject innocent consumers of your product to a humiliating and degrading process. In the end, the only way we as consumers can hope to effect change is to alter our travel habits and hope the drop in business will result in the arm twisting required to reverse some of these egregious choices by those entrusted with our security.
Thank you for providing many miles of excellent travel experience. I hope that someday, and soon, we as law-abiding citizens can regain the ability to both travel by air and maintain our dignity.