My Travel Plan (Being Prepared Not to Fly)

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by phoebepontiac, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. I've been considering a trip this winter with my two young children (who will be 1.5 and 5.5 years old) to visit the grandparents. I feel strongly about not flying right now, but my father has not yet met my daughter, and it's breaking my heart. He's a private pilot and it's very hard to get him in a commercial plane piloted by someone he doesn't know. I respect this, so if we want to see him, we have to fly. And the trip is AK to AZ, which makes driving very impractical, especially with two young kids.

    The flight would be between airports currently with no pornoscanners, ANC to TUS. If one of them gets scanners, the trip is cancelled unless I can work a re-route somehow (Kenai to Flagstaff? What an odd route that would be). We would do everything right, to a paranoid degree. We would wear form fitting clothes, my hair would be down, no metal anywhere on our persons with the exception of my gold tooth (wedding ring, even, locked to something secure deep inside my bag). I might even take off my daughter's diaper for the trip through the checkpoints if I'm feeling particularly paranoid. We won't bring anything tricky -- no liquids, no laptop, no stroller, nothing. If I bring the baby carrier, it will be stuffed away in the carry-on.

    I will have my husband waiting outside the checkpoint on this end to make sure we get through, and in case I need back-up if there's a problem. My mom and/or dad will also be waiting for us to get through on the TUS end. We will comply cheerfully, respectfully, and politely with any and all screening with one exception -- nobody touches me or the kids (hand swab not withstanding). If we are chosen for a random grope, I politely decline and ask to be escorted out of the airport. If we somehow alarm some test, I will make a game-time decision about whether to allow it -- if it's a localized patdown of some sort that's not in a "sensitive area", I might feel okay with it. Or maybe not. But in planning to potentially not fly, I think I could handle all of this calmly and politely, thereby not giving anyone a reason to escalate, retaliate, or arrest me. I will channel Rosa Parks, Ghandi, Obiwan Kenobi, Sharon Cissna, and every other persona I can think of who has used the force to prevail in such a situation. I'm also thinking I would set my Flip on record and put it in my backpack outside net pocket, just in case (I don't have a cell phone).

    If we have to leave the checkpoint on the ANC end, it's easy, we just don't fly. But if we can't fly out of TUS, the plan is a trip up the west coast relying mostly on friends and family for rides and beds and moral support. And then pull a Cissna and take the ferry from Bellingham back up to AK. This actually sounds like a great time, and I almost want to do it anyway, but it will interfere with my teaching gig next semester. I might take the semester off so I don't have to worry about it at all, but I'm not sure yet.

    Here are some questions I have:

    1) Is it realistic to expect that if I am cheerful, respectful, and politely decline touching, I will not be charged with anything?
    2) My kids' and my toiletries are just lousy with glycerin. Every last product. The laundry detergent might have it, too, and I know the dish soap does. What can I do about this? Are there some known safe brands?
    3) Should I prepare my son that the checkpoint is a potential problem area, and that he needs to keep quiet and stay by me and not talk to strangers, or should I let him act normally and take the stupid sticker and all that? Which would arouse less suspicion? I'm also concerned that in the unlikely event that we don't fly, he would totally lose it. He's like that. So I don't know if I should somehow prepare him that plans could go awry in a way that sounds like it's an emergency (like how we talk about what happens if he gets lost, or there's a fire... it's not going to happen, but just in case it does).

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Edited Further to Bold My Objective (in case it wasn't clear): My goal here is getting us through without being touched. If it were just me I'd likely do things differently, but civil disobedience is only a last resort here. Though if it comes to that, you know I'll be taking it to my neighbor, the news anchor, the internet, and everybody else I can think of.
  2. Crap, the baby hit post before I was ready... editing...

    ETA: Okay, original post edited. Cool.
  3. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    I'm not a pro, frequent-flyer like our compatriots, but my response would be:
    Resisting is the only thing that matters. I had NO attitude whatsoever going through WTMD, and got felt up probably b/c of the opportunity my clothing presented. I would wear body armor rather than something clingy. That may be bad advice, but just my reaction to being probed. I think others would answer very differently, in the interest of civil disobedience, but being polite should lessen the chance of you being hauled off.
    Don't know anything about products, but not all airports do the glycerin thing. I've never once been swabbed (SEA, SFO, OAK)
    Unfortunately I would prepare him with a very short answer about where he is going, and tell him that you might be briefly separated but you'll be right nearby, not to worry. Some people might want the drama to unfold, but I'm speaking as a Mom. Whatever you do, don't have him depend on a toy for comfort that the thugs take away. That scenario has escalated pretty quickly.
    It's always good to let your kids be prepared if plans change. You certainly have thought this through, Phoebepontiac! Good luck.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  4. Thanks KrazyKat. That makes good sense about having him prepared with a quick answer, etc.

    One more question... What about patdowns at the gate? Do I need to have a contingency plan for that?
  5. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    It's incomprehensible to me that we're fair game even after going through the checkpoint gauntlet. But I've read the reports here of roaming BDOs, like hall-monitors-gone-wild. If this is what goes on, all bets are off. I have nothing to suggest other than not traveling while being Mexican etc.;) But seriously, not talking to strangers and avoiding interaction seems wise. It would be great if your husband was a secret videographer, so any encounters would be captured.
  6. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    Didn't some politician say the terrorists can only win if they force us to change?

    Seems like they've won if that's the standard.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  7. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    I think there are a lot of ways of resisting and fighting this. Seeing Mommy hauled off to jail is not optimal for a child. If somebody wants to spit, that's their business--and I don't disagree in spirit--but I would never do that traveling with little children.
  8. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    I don't see how one person can stand up to this monster, other than just by staying away from it. And how can a mother with small children protect them? Something hideous has arisen in our country.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  9. I've thought about this. I think two things protect us. One, I will do nothing even remotely uncooperative or disruptive, except for refusing consent for any patdowns. I will smile, speak calmly, even apologize, but refuse consent. To arrest or fine a mother with little kids present in this situation would look extremely bad for them. I'd hope they wouldn't want to be the airport in the next viral internet scandal, harassing a mother who does nothing but refuse to consent to the molestation of herself or her kids.

    If I do get detained, I have a parent/grandparent nearby to take the children until I can get back with them. They will be in good hands if I have a problem. Ultimately it's not the prettiest situation, but I'd rather have my kids see me hauled away for doing the right thing rather than have them experience or witness unwarranted prison intake procedures on their mother or each other. That, I think, would be much worse. If I get in trouble, I could later explain to them what happened, that the bad people wanted to touch our private parts and I said no. I might have to explain about the weird moral ambiguity of the whole thing (the uniformed people are there to make sure we're safe, but sometimes they do things that make us unsafe in the process). But for me to take a stand, even if it lands me in some trouble, would be consistent with what we teach them, how we plan to raise them.

    I really am conflicted about this, though. It's kind of the classic parenting dilemma -- shield your kids entirely from an evil that's possible, but not entirely likely, or take them out into the world and show them how to deal with the evil head on if and when it comes. My kids are a little young for the latter, but at the same time, by shielding them entirely from the evil, I'm also shielding them from their extended family, which is its own tragedy. There's no good answer.
    nachtnebel likes this.
  10. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Phoebe, you are indeed between a rock and a hard place. I have no easy answers, except for this:
    The only thing it's realistic to expect is anything. A good attitude guarantees nothing (despite the incessant drumbeat of TSA apologists). The last time I flew, September 2010, my smiles, cheer, and politeness got me yelled at and punished with a deliberately long wait. (This was before the gropes had been instituted.)

    Are you sure you can't convince your father to fly? Though it's wrong for anyone to be subjected to the TSA's abuse, I think it's worse for children. Might your father be sympathetic to that?
  11. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    This whole thread is so sad. Why should free-born American citizens have to discuss the best way to get somewhere on an airplane? Why should we have to worry about how we should act or what we should wear? Why should we have to worry about what personal grooming and laundry products we should use to keep ourselves and our children safe from so-called "security" measures. Why should we even have to be worried that our children will be "patted-down" ("groped", "felt-up", "molested", whatever)?

    This discussion should not be happenning AT ALL!! I want to cry when I think of what has happened to our "right to travel freely" within the continental borders of the USA. Seriously!
  12. Well, short answer, no. My dad is eccentric. He cannot be convinced to do anything he hasn't thought of himself. I learned long ago that our relationship is better if I accept this as a reality.

    @DeafBlonde -- It is sad, indeed. This is no longer the America I grew up believing in. But as I accept this as reality, I'm moving past my sadness into deciding how to live in post-Constitutional America. I sometimes think about the situations people have been forced to bring their kids through in places like Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. and even more recently Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo (these all come to mind because they're areas of interest/study for me, I know there are countless examples the world over). Things aren't nearly so bad yet, and I'm not forced to bring my children through an airport at this time. But the longer people like me shelter their children from these realities and/or submit to them, the more the government is empowered to encroach further and further. I think I'm ready to take the chance that my children and I might have to challenge the system.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  13. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    What we are seeing is the security state. It is beyond any party and beyond any questioning. There is no escape from it.
    Lisa Simeone, KrazyKat and nachtnebel like this.
  14. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    agreed. this fetish with forcing people to prove they are not a threat is going to extend waaay beyond airports. It will lead to other venues and to home inspections. Once you allow government agents to invade your person as they do at airports, there is no logical reason preventing them from doing so elsewhere.
    Lisa Simeone and KrazyKat like this.
  15. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    We saw this with the Savannah train station incident. Now BART decided to cut off cell phone service, all in the interest of security. Again, once the label "security" gets attached to something, no politician of either party will touch it.
    Lisa Simeone and nachtnebel like this.
  16. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Oh, you mean this recent event? yikes. that is irritating. This does look like one more step toward a banana republic. Some of those BART stations have starbucks and whatnot, and people typically conduct normal phone business there. We'll have to be watchful for TSA minions approaching with swabs next I guess.

    btw, one news account compared this to what Mubarak did in Egypt during the unrest.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  17. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    It already is one. A mass uprising couldn't happen in a more deserving City.
    I think this provides and interesting twist on the movement towards privatization, if it is wholly within the owner's right to flip the switch at any time. Have to see what the FCC says.
    Nachtnebel, I have shared your outlook toward devolved (in my view, bioregional) governance. But I find close to the locality, that crime and greed still pay, and what's operative seems to be 'whatever you can get away with.' Avarice favors no scale of governance. Public spaces, laws, and disclosures are necessary to counter thug rule.
    The stories of being patted down at the gate have totally blown my mind. Either you're cleared from the checkpoint or not. What have I missed? The unlimited warrant of the BDO?
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  18. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    For some reason the gate grope per se doesn't bother me so much, at least no more so than the checkpoint rubbish. But it seems like it could readily be abused.
  19. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    And these "security" measures always seem accompanied by theft, or the guaranteed opportunity for theft, carried out by bullies, for their own profit. While your person or your property is controlled by others. Like gangsters and intimidation. It's like some bigger switch got flipped in the US a while back, much bigger than the one in the BART system.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  20. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    CP, you're cleared. That's it! The checkpoint clears you to the sterile area. Period!

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