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To Travel or Not to Travel?

(Posted by guest blogger Valerie Strauss)

Let's say you woke up this morning and were headed to the airport for a trip to London when you turned on the news and heard that a terrorist plot involving planes flying from the United Kingdom to the United States had been busted.

Do you silently thank the British for breaking it up, remind yourself that air travel is safer than driving, and carry on?

Or do you cancel your trip?

Conflict around the world has given travelers plenty of opportunity in recent years to confront their fears and make calculated decisions about what risks they will or won't take.

Travel agents say many travelers have put off trips to the Mideast since the war between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah began last month, according to travel agents. But others haven't: Many travelers to Israel, for example, made a different threat calculation, going but changing their itinerary to areas not involved in the war.

Forging ahead is the advice being given from the nation's transportation and security leaders--even though the threat alert for aviation has been raised to the second highest level for all commercial planes operating in the United States, including international flights, and to the highest level for commercial aviation flying from this country to Britain.

Kip Hawley, head of the Transportation Security Administration advised travelers today to "enjoy your trip" and Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff, while acknowledging that that might seem like "strange" advice, told people they had to go on with their lives.

But that may be easier said than done for some folks, particularly during prime vacation time.
How much do parents tell their kids as they go to the airport and face incredibly long security lines at airports? What do they say when their kid's cup of milk is taken away by security agents because of a new ban on carrying liquids onto aircraft?

What would you do?

By Valerie Strauss |  August 10, 2006; 12:54 PM ET
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What a weak argument. I should stop traveling because a terrorist threat in London was exposed and the ongoing Middle East war involving Israel and Hezbollah. Give up now Valerie, stay home and don't go out. The world's a dangerous place. There's a crime emergency in DC that has a much better chance of affecting your life than a terror plot and war on foreign continents.

I'll live my life without fear no thanks to your chicken little "sky is falling" paranoia. Good lord, what did you do after 9/11? Hide in a closet?

Posted by: Give me a break | August 10, 2006 1:43 PM


Why would you cancel your trip because of this? Please explain.

Posted by: KK | August 10, 2006 2:04 PM

Well although both recent comments make good sense.

It's just the way American have become, there will be those that stand up and look the evils in their eyes and dare them to try and take their lives, which they will if you let them.

And there are people like Valerie, who if not pressed to go on vacation by flying, looks for other ways to enjoy her vacation.

Both are right at this point in our lives as Americans.

It's just the same with people who move to lower floors in tall building now vs. the people who are willing to stand up to the fear that has been created and take the higher floors.

It's just part of America now, however both are right. Fear vs. Confidence.


Posted by: Frankey | August 10, 2006 2:10 PM

I would not cancel my trip. But, I am less than thrilled when high level officials who have their own planes that enforce a strict "no terrorists allowed" policy tell me it is safe to fly. Then you get on a commercial flight (just get to the airport early to allow for the extra screening), if nothing happens it is safe to fly.

Posted by: ep | August 10, 2006 2:11 PM

Thanks for the responses.

FYI, during 9-11, I was outside covering the story, at a national monument I was sent to by my editor after information that it might possibly be a target of a plane or bomb. Where were you?

As for cancelling a trip, I doubt I personally would. I know people who have, however, and was curious what other people thought. I do know someone leaving today who was struggling with what to tell her young kids. She was worried about scaring them so much about the threat that the trip would be ruined.

Posted by: Valerie Strauss | August 10, 2006 2:13 PM

What constitutes "young" in kids anymore? Why would you tell them anything that would scare them? The security lines are slow, but they're not menacing to young children. If anything, there's less to fear today (other than the wait) than there was yesterday.

Posted by: Kalorama Kat | August 10, 2006 2:18 PM

Um, since when did Hezbollah become a "Lebanese milita"?????
Last I checked, they are an Iranian-funded and trained *terrorist* organization. Did you hear at least one captured Hezbollah fighter has Iranian Revolutionary Guard credentials?

As for travel, plan to let the airlines have all your luggage, and get your coffee and milk on the other side of the security checkpoint. 'Nuff said

Posted by: dahozho | August 10, 2006 2:20 PM

"What do they say when their kid's cup of milk is taken away by security agents because of a new ban on carrying liquids onto aircraft?"

Why say anything? Tell the kids they have to finish the milk before they go through security or before they get on the plane.

Our local airports have long enough security lines on a normal day that I doubt most children will notice.

Posted by: AG | August 10, 2006 2:30 PM

Want to outfox the evildoers? Do what the Prez does. Surround yourself with heavily armed and highly trained security, fly on your own plane, and don't announce your travel plans until you have arrived at your destination. It works for GWB, and I'm sure it will work for you. "Bring 'em on!"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 2:31 PM

I am headed to France via Heathrow next month for my vacation...and I have no plans to cancel anything, nor will I ever be afraid to fly because those stupid terrorists or whatever they are. They don't scare me. They can't tell me how to run my life! Happy travelling to all!

Posted by: Vacation or bust | August 10, 2006 2:43 PM

"Our local airports have long enough security lines on a normal day that I doubt most children will notice."

Most kids young enough to be distressed over their cup of milk most likely don't fly enough to have a reference to judge against - they'll simply see it as normal. Now, what this means for future generations growing up during governmental hypervigilance is a completely different matter, but as far as explaining the long lines? No need; as a previous poster suggested, just tell the kid to finish the milk before security.

Posted by: Karthik | August 10, 2006 2:43 PM

Flying had become enough of an annoyance up to now. If I can't take any liquid (including beverages bought inside the gate area; what's that about?) or eye drops, nasal spray (all reasonable items for health and comfort while flying) God know the airlines are all going to let you collapse from dehydration since they find every excuse in the book to make you uncomfortable. Then yes I would walk away and cancel my trip.
I will not fly until these ridiculous rules are relaxed. Let the airlines all go bankrupt and you'll see the rules pulled back. I'm fed up and to borrow from an old airline slogan; "I hate to fly and it shows."

Posted by: no longer flying | August 10, 2006 2:50 PM

TSA appears to fight the last war. I am a gazillion mile flyer on a targeted airline. Ban on liquids is over-reaching. Docs tell us to drink lots of liquids on flights to keep from getting germs that settle on a dry (!) mucus membrane. Docs say drink a bottle of water every hour or two. Will we have to drink that less-than-appealing tepid (is it germy?) water the airlines carry in bulk? Or will airlines now sell bottled water on board for $10/bottle? As to buying drinks beyond security, as posted earlier, I read today that such liquid purchases must be consumed before boarding planes. Flight attendants will be racing up/down aisles giving surly frequenet flyers water-- glass after glass. A fiasco, I fear.

Posted by: freqflyer | August 10, 2006 2:53 PM

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

I flew three days after 9-11 on a plane virtually emptied by cancellations. If that didn't scare me, why would this?

Posted by: Catwoman | August 10, 2006 2:54 PM

I don't have a choice about flying if I want to keep my job, but I am not looking forward to my next trip. I don't always have time or opportunity to go to a drug store to get liquid/gel products I normally bring with me, and some are not available from a drug store anyway--especially one not in the US. Let the airline have my luggage? Not if I want to use it when I arrive. It's been taking too many trips without me for me to trust that it will arrive on the same plane I do.

Not to mention that I fly to international airports that are already heavily secured and are going to be even more so. Thank God I can--and already did--avoid Dulles.

I'm not looking forward to my next trip not out of fear (I figure I'm unlikely to die in an airplane) but out of inconvenience.

Posted by: Petty reaction | August 10, 2006 2:58 PM

There's a difference to me in cancelling (or changing destination/mode of travel) because of a fear of terrorism and militant action and with cancelling because one simply doesn't want to deal with the hassle, stress and extreme annoyance with regulations such as no carry-on luggage at all. I've travelled to many "dangerous" countries and have no fear of flying (much more likely to die in a car accident); but no way would I want to take a 6 or 8 hour flight with no book to read, music to listen to, snacks, or eye drops for my contacts. If you want a plane of stir-crazy and upset passengers, just make sure they have nothing better to do than talk to each other. And checking valuables like my photo equipment? Yeah, right.

In the end, it wouldn't be terrorism that would change my plans, but the security imposed as a reaction to the threat of terrorism.

Posted by: Faith | August 10, 2006 2:59 PM

Wow, nice vitriol people. Does it make you fell tough to attack someone for pointing out what a lot of people are talking about today? I've had a number of conversations with people who were mulling whether to take planned trips, especially to Europe. It's a fair question.

The threat won't change my flying habits, but the delays might. If I have to add two or three hours to a short trip, I may well skip it. I'll certainly think hard about whether to subject my kids to the delays, or find other options.

Posted by: Cap Hill | August 10, 2006 3:01 PM

Everybody, every single American, needs to look at the full list of acceptable and unacceptable items in carry on luggage published by the TSA. Some highlights:

Ice Picks are NOT okay. Screwdrivers and claw hammers shorter than 7 inches ARE okay. Aren't these items essentially the same thing?

Sharp pointed knives of any material are NOT okay. Blunt pointed butter knives, regardless of material, ARE okay.

Apparently lipstick is no longer okay. However, I can bring my knitting needles. And my incredibly sharp sewing scissors are okay as well as long as the blades are four inches or less.

I am not allowed to carry a lighter. I may carry FOUR books of matches to replace my lighter. If I can't get a bomb lit in 80 tries, I'm a failure as a terrorist anyway. Also, I may NOT put any matches in my CHECKED luggage. I can only carry them with me.

Anyone who feels safer is just lying to themselves. These idiotic regulations only exist to give an illusion of security and a reality of inconvenience. Also, an excuse to paw through my purse. How much will we as Americans put up with in the name of security? If they called it by its true name - search and seizure - there would be protests around all the airports.

Every American needs to complain. Maybe even boycott some flights. We should not be standing for this.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:15 PM

Newsflash, "Give me a break", there IS NO CRIME EMERGENCY. Can't believe you fell for that. The sky is falling, indeed.

Posted by: Ditto on the vitriol comment | August 10, 2006 3:16 PM

I am scheduled to fly out this evening, and I am not going to cancel my plans. However, as a turban-wearing member of the Sikh faith, I am a bit worried that this incident will lead to another round of unecessary profiling and harassment of innocent parties. As an educated, native-born American citizen, I am not too concerned with my ability to "navigate" the obstacles that are inevitable as a result of this most recent incident. Unfortunately for many recent immigrants, they do not have the same level of comfort.

I urge my fellow Americans to not allow our heightened security threat lead to hatred and resentment of minorities that equally condemn all forms of terrorism. I hope that the past five years have taught us something about who the "real" enemy is in this war on terror. It is not every person you see wearing a turban or with dark skin.

God bless America.

Posted by: Singh | August 10, 2006 3:17 PM

I applaud the patience of those in airports today and over the next week.
I have a pre-schooler (who has flown on 5 trips already) and if I was facing a 3+ hour flight I'd consider cancelling.

I am certain most of those criticizing the possibility of NOT flying due to no carry- ons, food or drink, etc will be the FIRST to complain and LOUDLY when a child fusses because of being thirsty/hungry (they do not even offer food on many flights under X hours) or BORED with no books, crayon kits, walkmans etc to distract them. Plus little ones might get just TIRED and CRANKY after the long security waits.
So, I am sorry if little kids don't act as perfectly as you all think they should - even when a situation is explained to them.
I am sure these know-it-alls will now post it is my fault for not training the child better. Please - flying with kids is all about creativity & distraction. So while I understand the immediate bans - if they continue we will rethink our fall travel plans.

Posted by: MominPA | August 10, 2006 3:22 PM

The shoe bomber - an actual person, who made it into the airport with his shoe bomb - was all the excuse Americans needed to go forward with the time wasting, humiliating "security" measure of having to take off our shoes.

Now we can't carry on water, because an alleged terrorist was "close to travelling." At what point are we going to say ENOUGH?

I wonder when someone will finally notice that the most destructive act of violence would be carrying a bomb into the middle of one of those four hour "security" lines.

Posted by: First shoes, now water | August 10, 2006 3:29 PM

I'm supposed to travel to the UK in 3 weeks. I am fine with extra security, and I am willing to show up to the airport hours early so that they can hand inspect every single personal item I bring. But I agree with other chatters that not being able to bring anything onto the plane at all is just obsurd. No book or magazine? No music? No earplugs or headphones? And I have to trust TSA with $2000+ in BRAND NEW photo equipment?!?! Will they cover the cost of repairs in Pounds Sterling when I have to have my lens realigned in London because they jostle and toss my checked bags like they are sacks of potatoes and no amount of protective casing will prevent my stuff from taking a hit? I seriously doubt it! Even El-Al allows hand luggage!

Posted by: Sterling | August 10, 2006 3:30 PM

MominPA -

No one said anything about kids on the plane. Sounds like you are a bit defensive regarding a child being bored and unruly on a plane with the new rules.

I think most people who are complaining about the inability to bring comfort items on the plane would be a bit more understanding to a small child who was unable to bring his favorite toy or other entertainment on a plane.

So perhaps you should relax a bit. I recently took a 5 hour flight where there was a small child who cried and whined the entire time (not an exaggeration - I could hear him crying through my headphones) and I felt terrible for the passengers who had to sit right near them.

No one complained loudly or quietly. Listening to a kid cry on a plane for 5 hours was not fun, but you get through it. So take a pill and calm down.

Posted by: NoMominDC | August 10, 2006 3:31 PM

I am moving to DC in a month for school and was planning on bringing a laptop. However, if these security measures are still in place, I will not check my computer in my luggage. I will take other steps to ensure it arrives safely - even if I have to pay a bit more for it.

I am not going to cry if I can't have my iPod on the 7 hour flight. Sure it will be inconvenient, but I will try to sleep and eat and drink the food and water provided.

I would rather forgo my entertainment for 7 hours to have a chance for a safe arrival.

Posted by: DCgal | August 10, 2006 3:34 PM

Milk for the kiddies really shouldn't be a factor here. From the FAQ on the Post's own website:

"Passengers may have baby formula, breast milk, or juice if a baby or small child is traveling with them."

Posted by: Nitpicker | August 10, 2006 3:41 PM

According to the TSA website, you can still bring electronics - IPods, laptops, etc. - on planes.

Posted by: Cap Hill | August 10, 2006 3:41 PM

I personally will be waiting for the big sale and jump right in...I have been wanting to travel to Vegas anyway...

Posted by: frugal traveler | August 10, 2006 3:43 PM

Singh said - "It is not every person you see wearing a turban or with dark skin."

And you know what Singh, I don't ever recall anyone with a turban or of the Sikh faith being part of major criminal event. But people's stereotypes simply get in the way of any rationale thought these days.

Unfortunately, you inevitably have to "navigate" people's ignorance.

Good luck to you.

Posted by: frugal traveler | August 10, 2006 3:48 PM

I don't think they banned headphones...they banned the IPOD itself...

and it was in London only...

Posted by: ep | August 10, 2006 3:49 PM

For me, it's a matter of hassle. At some point, air travel just isn't worth it. I have 2 upcoming trips, 1 required for business and 1 for pleasure that I don't plan to cancel. But b/c we're looking at months of this liquids insanity, I will rethink whether to take trips in the future.

This is just another example of how useless the TSA is. How many years have we been flying now with seemingly random restrictions (implemented by minimally-paid and qualified people) that didn't include anything to address this? How is it possible that we're unable to design a common sense security paradigm that does background checks on frequent travelers, scrutinizes people differently based on the likelihood of danger, and can tell a water bottle from a bomb?

Posted by: JH | August 10, 2006 3:49 PM

Like others, I would prefer to delay my flight,not out of fear, but out of inconvenience. Six hours in line at the airport is not my idea of a fun way to start a vacation. I might as well be in Friday afternoon beach traffic. But if I had non-refundable reservations, I'd suck it up and go.

I'd be a lot happier if I could at least have a couple of books, though.

Posted by: wma | August 10, 2006 3:49 PM

Good grief, the ban on ipods is to force people to have to PAY for headphones so they have to watch whatever inane inflight movie is on or take the alternative of dying of boredom.

Posted by: ep | August 10, 2006 3:51 PM

First a terrorist hid a bomb in his shoe, so now you must remove your shoes at security. Then today's plot involved liquids, so now you can't bring liquids onto a plane. Dare I point out that every successful airplane terrorist so far has worn clothing?

Posted by: Fly Naked | August 10, 2006 3:54 PM

I have no choice, I have to go away (domestic flight) due to death in my family. I'm with the people who say, it's not the fear, it's the inconvenience. At the end of his life, my dad was diabetic and needed to use the bathroom often, and even wore protective undergarments. He wasn't afraid of terrorists - but he stopped flying b/c he was afraid of small people with badges and guns who would have the power to humiliate and delay him.

Posted by: flying to a funeral | August 10, 2006 4:00 PM

Okay, here's the solution. Everyone flies naked and they use those oxygen masks to administer anesthesia to everyone on board. Replace the flight attendants with nurse anesthetists (Did you know the first FAs were RNs?) That way there's nothing hidden and no trouble from anyone.

Posted by: Ultimate no frills air | August 10, 2006 4:02 PM

I also am traveling domestically on Saturday. Aside from just the nuisance factor dealing with the TSA (a joke 99% of the time), it won't stop me from flying because if there really WAS a terrorist plot, our wonderful President and Mr. Blair wouldn't both be on vacation during this trying time.

We are also traveling to Europe in about 2 weeks and will not be cancelling. Again, it's the hassle factor more than anything. Anyone who actually has passed through TSA Security and feels safer is really giving that agency a lot more credit than they deserve.

Neither of us will allow the current Administration to scare us. It is no way to live.

Posted by: BettyBoop | August 10, 2006 4:08 PM

I am in Midway airport now. the security lines were shorter than usual and some TSA employees search all bags, others none. no lotion, gel, makeup in tubes, perfume, aftershave allowed. the trashcans are getting full. they are searching bags before you board the plane too. It will be interesting to see if the baggage handlers are able to manage the additional load. I have my treo and ipod no problem

Posted by: in an airport | August 10, 2006 4:10 PM

Tell me what to think. Tell me what to tell my children, tell me what is safe and what is not. If I should question that authority please stand in front of me with automatic weapons, a dark uniform and an aggresive manner. Make your presence known in every part of my life - wave me on as I drive past your check point every day leaving my house. If I disagree simply assault me, dominate me and point to me as the cause of all fear.

Posted by: blank slate | August 10, 2006 4:16 PM

UK to US has banned carryon items (with the exception of a wallet, your glasses, your ticket, and a bottle of liquid for an infant that you must taste in front of the security guard.

US to UK is only making you throw out your liquids... so far. They are discussing what to do next, and the smart money is on a panicky overreaction.

Posted by: The ban on carryon hasn't taken effect in the US | August 10, 2006 4:21 PM

taking a slightly higher perspective on all this, we simply can't have the government outlaw entire classes of material from being carried on the plane at all, just because a handful of people were going to use them to bomb or take over the plane.

Face it, anything that is by definition "useful", probably has more than one use.

If this keeps up we'll all have to submit to a full body-cavity search plus an x-ray and a background check, and a mental-health exam, and an immunization, just to get on an airplane. With precautionary handcuffs and leg-irons after we are seated. Anything less would not be "secure".

And what is to prevent a bomb in our luggage from being blown up by remote control from someone outside the airport? Planes do fly low for quite a while on approach and landing. Why not just sabotage the flight control systems?

Why not just set up someone with a high-powered semiauto rifle armed with incendiary rounds up the flight path? What about all those green lasers?

There are a dozen ways that a plane can be taken down. When are airliners going to be banned, period?

...when are they going to arrest and detain all male Muslims?

Posted by: cc | August 10, 2006 4:37 PM

Complain are complaining about all these new restrictions and would would be compaining if the TSA did nothing about the dangers on airplanes. You can't have it both ways people. They are doing this for people's safety. Blame the people who tried to bring explosives on the plane. They are the ones with the issues.

Posted by: Vacation or bust | August 10, 2006 4:38 PM

...or all anti-semites? Or Communists...atheists...anti-capitalists...the list goes on...

and when is our President going to learn that only Congress has the power to declare war, and that such terms should not be used lightly and/or for political gain?

Posted by: cc | August 10, 2006 4:41 PM

"Complain are complaining about all these new restrictions and would would be compaining if the TSA did nothing about the dangers on airplanes"

No, I'm not complaining.

They wouldn't have done anything if someone hadn't told them to do it. As many of the talking heads are saying, terrorists have had plans to blow up planes with liquid or crystalline powder bombs for years.

It's bad enough that the airlines refuse to put proper vapor traps in the wing tanks of airliners, even after the Alaskan Air disaster. There are 7000 ways to bring down an airplane from the inside. There's no possible way that TSA can effectively prevent all of the millions of travellers that fly every year from being effective terorrists, if they really try.

Except by keeping people off the planes.

Posted by: cc | August 10, 2006 4:48 PM

"Okay, here's the solution. Everyone flies naked and they use those oxygen masks to administer anesthesia to everyone on board. Replace the flight attendants with nurse anesthetists (Did you know the first FAs were RNs?) That way there's nothing hidden and no trouble from anyone."

Yeah! Just stun everyone, or drug them, so that they wake up after the plane lands...

Of course if the flight is held up or rerouted by bad weather a second dose may be necessary...

part of buying any airline ticket should be submitting a full medical history so they can properly and safely determine the correct drug and dose to administer to you, on boarding :)

Or better yet, a thought-control unit in the headrest, with a connection to a stun unit if you even think about leaving your seat!

Posted by: cc | August 10, 2006 4:52 PM

Still, better yet, no more planes. We simply shoot people through the air, with a massive railgun or a personal solid-rocket booster. Strap them in a protective bullet-shaped cocoon and accelerate them to Mach 15 at an altitude of 20 miles, they'll be across the Atlantic in under an hour. Faster, and much safer.

Posted by: cc | August 10, 2006 4:55 PM

...or, we get on the plane and accept that the pilot himself could wreck the plane simply by overusing the rudder and snapping it off, like what happened at JFK a few years ago.

Or that someone on the plane could have Ebola. This has happened more than once.

Or someone brings onboard a simple, small ultrasonic device, disguised as a DVD player, laptop, blackberry, cell phone, heart monitor, any sizable electronic device, which causes a catastrophic fracture in the structure or in a window resulting in explosive decompression.

It's not hard. There are a million ways.

It can't be stopped.

Why try to stop a handful of unlikely ways, and inconvenience millions of passengers?

It just doesn't make sense, does it?

But...given that this is the Bush administration, what do you expect?

Posted by: cc | August 10, 2006 4:58 PM

TSA's new rules won't deter me from flying - but I'm rethinking my flight to London in October. It's not the terrorist threat, it's the fact that the British authorities don't seem to be letting people carry reading matter onto flights. I couldn't survive the flight back to the US without several books to see me through.

Posted by: jb | August 10, 2006 5:03 PM

My feeling is that traveling by plane, overall, is and has always been more of a hassle than it's worth.

I fly multiple times across the US each year and every time I do it, I remind myself never to do it again. Why leave your house 2 or 3 hours before a flight when you can show up 15 minutes before a train leaves? There are little to no security lines, the seats are much bigger and more comfortable, you can (quietly) use your cell phone and other electronic devices whenever you want, and you don't have to wait an hour for the baggage claim belt to start whirling around and pray that your luggage didn't get lost.

I've taken a 'red-eye' train from Savannah, GA, when I couldn't get a late night flight back to DC; and it was the best thing I could have done. It was a 12-hour train ride, and I slept for about 9 hours of it. When we got into DC in the morning, I was rested and ready to go to work after a quick shower at the gym.

And the prices are decent in the Northeast and great to anywhere else. One-way from DC to Glacier Park in Montana is something like $125. And it drops you off in the middle of the friggin Park!

Understandably, there are timing issues and people 'have to' be in certain places to make meetings and deadlines. But with a little extra planning, trains can really save some cash and some headaches.

Posted by: Dakota Pants | August 10, 2006 5:32 PM

My wife and I have no choice; we fly home to the metro DC area from Fort Lauderdale tomorrow, so we'll carefully pack, be glad we booked a nonstop flight so that we can check luggage through without much worry, and take off.
Think how well this works for Bush and his minions. They get to say that the threat is real--although we'll probably never hear of any of the suspects coming to trial--and they get to tell us that the inconvenience we have to put up with in airports indicate that the administration is protecting us all. And if it's somehow found out that the threat isn't real, they'll blame the Brits, just as they did when the WMDs in Iraq didn't exist.

Posted by: amstphd | August 10, 2006 5:54 PM

What an idiot you are Valerie, to use the tired old "what do I tell my child" dramatic license-go get some real life experience, and then see if you can compose a half-way thoughtful, even intelligent post!

Posted by: GirlSpyTravel | August 10, 2006 6:07 PM


You know, GirlSpyTravel has a good point. Mothers who don't know what to tell their children should probably do the kids a favor and put them up for adoption so they can be raised by parents who do. Do you really think we should run the world according to whether a half-wit mother can explain it to her child?

Thank you GST for putting it so clearly.

Posted by: KK | August 10, 2006 6:55 PM

James Falllows has a tremendous article in the September Atlantic about our victory over Al Qaeda. In it he notes that security experts regard the US $5 billion effort toward airport security as "theatre" to make the traveling public feel safer. With hardened cockpit doors and a new view of hijacking there will NOT be another 2001 attack.

It is all too convenient that the operators of the airport "theatre" scene have their own agenda which has nothing to do with protecting the traveling public. I find it curious that this announcement was made on a Thursday morning in August, in time to have a significant and noticeable effect but NOT a crippling one.

By the way, I entered Reagan National Gipperport at 7:05 this morning and was at gate 40 by 7:37. I don't know if other airports around the country have less competent screening or, more likely, if National has the pull to fully staff its checkpoints and other airport TSA managers would rather have travelers stand for hours than spend the money to run all their machines at once. However, when I deplaned in Jacksonville at 11 A.M. there were only a couple dozen people in the screening line. The whole event smells strongly of manipulative hype to me.

- Bum

Posted by: BeachBum | August 10, 2006 7:02 PM

If I can't take nasal spray on board with me, I won't be flying. But then again, if people can't take toothpaste and deoderant on board, a stuffed-up nose might be a good thing on overseas flights!

Business will be booming for destination airport stores that sells toiletries, makeup, and other liquid and gel items.

BTW, who's the oversight for TSA?

Posted by: WB | August 10, 2006 7:59 PM

CHildless DC - such a sweet reply! Make you feel big?
My point stands I do not think it is "stupid" or "dramatic" to consider cancelling plans due to these restrictions when you travel with children. I stand by my point that most of you would be the first to complain about a crying child. The tone of your post betrays your snobbish attitude ('tis ok, I was a nonmom once cannot help it with all that time on your hands).
My child and actually most kids seated near me when I have flown for business or pleasure, are pretty well behaved BUT I bet not for hours without food, water or the dvd player for a longer flight, etc. So maybe back off those who actually *GASP* dare contemplate NOT FLYING anytime soon.

Posted by: MominPA | August 10, 2006 9:28 PM

Funny thing. We were set to board a British Airways flight from Dulles to London today...and the flight was cancelled. So this isn't a "what would we do" story. It's a "what will we do?"

British Airways has rebooked us for Saturday, and we'll be on that plane. The mess at Heathrow will be cleared up, people here will have figured out the new rules so the security lines will be down, and the number of people traveling might also be down out of fear and hassle avoidance.

I was in Boston on 9/11, and two weeks later was back on my regular Monday/Friday air commute. That actually was a good time to travel, since so few were willing to get on planes.

By the way. If you want to worry about something, worry about all of that uninspected cargo that flys along with you and your luggage. That's what no one is doing anything about. Too expensive!

What do our industry-influenced decision makers think the financial result would be if planes were brought down by some of this uninspected air cargo?

Posted by: weekly flyer | August 10, 2006 9:44 PM

I've been saying since 9/11 that, all of the expressions of patiortism aside, the terrorists won the war. Face it - many aspects of everyday life are now based on fear and this is another brutally harsh element.

I'm a freelancer who travels worldwide frequently, but there's no chance I'll be doing any more until the latest retrictions are over. I have dietary considerations airlines can't fulfill and not allowing liquids means no food during flights. Furthermore, I've been traveling carry-on only for years - yes, it's a "proper" size daypack - and will not check bags, since I'm carrying very expensive gear like computers and cameras. (If I need more than a change of clothes, I buy cheap ones where I am as a souviner). And, as others have pointed out, there's always flaws that can be exploited: the latest measures do more to make people think they're being protected than actually protecting them.

It's perfectly understandable people might say good riddence to me and my travel quirks, but all the comments about how "we won't let the terrorists win" is almost amusing in a gristly way. They don't need to explode planes to be successful - merely make people, and especially officials, act as though it's a constant possibility.

Posted by: ms | August 10, 2006 10:07 PM

I took a train, the Coast Starlight, from Seattle to San Jose December 31st. It arrived 18 hours late. No typo; 18 hours. It is notorious for this; it's generally known as the Coast Starlate. With a very few exceptions, Amtrak is so undermaintained as to be useless for timely travel. Like it or not, for long-distance travel, my choices are drive or fly.

To answer the original question, I suspect you're safer flying in the next few weeks than at any other time -- the long-building plan to bomb has been disrupted and it will take time to gen up another equally sophisticated.

Posted by: Jonquil | August 10, 2006 10:49 PM

Everyone carries too much junk as carry-on anyway. Everything except for meds, pda and/or cell phone should be checked. TSA and the Airlines should be held Fully accountable for all thefts or damage with reimbursement at 10 times its replacement value. That would prevent all worries about damage or theft. Reimbursements would be Immediately available when you land. No long drawn out bureaucratic process...
Lines - There is No reason for long lines at security check points. Everyone pays an extra surcharge on their ticket for screening as well as taxes. There is plenty of money. If the line is long (more than 5 minutes) fire the supervisors and above on the spot for not having proper staffing and incompetence. I bet lines would disappear quickly...
Future security - The day is coming, if something is not done, that the out of control TSA/DHS will institute full strip searches with body cavity probing for every Man, Woman and Child. They already have machines that can see through all layers of clothing using "Backscatter" X-Rays to produce X rated photos. What's next?

Posted by: Citizen | August 10, 2006 11:25 PM

I took Amtrak (Crescent Line) to Georgia last month. It ran about an hour late, but the staff was very nice and I enjoyed the trip. If I'm travelling for business and have to fly, no problem, but for vacation and travel for pleasure, I'll consider other modes of transportation. It's not the whole "the terrists won't scare me off", but I do weigh the "grief-to-safety" ratio in makeing travel decisions. When flying becomes as annoying and painful as a rectal exam, I'll skip it, thanks.

Besides, this is an old terrorist plan from the early to mid 90s I guess they were going to retry. So, why didn't we block juice, water, and the likes since then? 100% safety is an illusion.

Posted by: ML | August 11, 2006 3:51 PM

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