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08/13/2002 Archived Entry: "Airlines"

Despite $10 billion dollars of loan guarantees that the US government has made available to airlines in financial need...

US Air files for bankruptcy

Will United Airlines File for Bankruptcy?

American Airlines workers bracing for layoffs

Vanguard Airlines has filed for bankruptcy

More airlines on path to bankruptcy?

Few people discuss one of the main reasons -- if not *the* main reason -- that passenger travel is severely down since 9/11. Passengers have ceased to be treated as customers with civil rights and are being treated like criminal suspects in a Soviet system: alienated customers are refusing to fly.

I do not know one person who flies regularly who does not have a story of recent abuse at the hands of airport security or airline representatives. And, yes, I mean they were victims of "abuse," not of reasonable security measures. A few samples...

L., a pleasant and well-spoken professional, repeatedly asked the fellow going through her bags to stop socializing with another guard during the process because it was taking so long and her flight was boarding. Unless she shut up, the fellow threated, he would inform the airline that she was too emotionally unstable to be allowed on the flight.

I argued with a representative behind the ticket counter about non-security travel matter, demanding to speak with her supervisor. The subsequent flight, which had a total of 6 legs, resulted in 6 "random" searches of my bags and person, including 3 requests to take off my shoes... Clearly, the disgrunted employee had entered my name into the computer as a potential "troublemaker."

a journalist friend swears that a piece jewelry "confiscated" from her was pocketed by a security officer.

an article in the most recent "Ideas on Liberty" details the traumatic vacation experience of James O's family, including the small children who were repeatedly searched. One guard warned him not to mention the Constitution again or he would be travelling by Greyhound for the rest of his life.

Stories in the media abound: women complain of "inappropriate touching" by male guards who grope them in body "searches"; women are forced to sip their own breast milk from containers in public; men are humiliated in front of their own children; an elderly man was arrested for asking a guard if he/she thought a rifle was in his wallet, which was being scrutinized; a woman passenger was forcibly removed from a plane because she asked if the pilots were sober; I've seen small children burst into tears while being searched and the elderly in wheelchair almost shaking with fear at their treatment.

The result? My husband and I will not fly whenever a viable alternative exists, even if the alternative adds a day onto each side of travelling, there and back. Or is more expensive. Our civil liberties are worth it. Our self-respect demands it. We are part of a silent, spreading boycott of air travel that is not motivated by fear of terrorism but anger at being man-handled, humiliated, and treated like criminals by airport personnel who function like the dull-eyed, unthinking lackeys of a police state. The boycott is not organized. Rather, it is grassroot...one by one, in every corner of North America, individuals are deciding for themselves that enough is enough. We are customers, not criminals.


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