Voodoo BDOs Slow Security Line to a Crawl, 4-Hour Delays

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Lisa Simeone, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Somebody (Mike?) also posted an article or two to that effect. As usual, I can't remember which thread. But the trend/forecast is irrefutable -- fewer people are flying. Not surprising, given the economy. And, for a few of us stalwarts anyway, given the TSA.
  2. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    No one needs any fancy schmancy articles! Just look at what the airlines have to say for themselves. Now, keep in mind that this data is for August, which historically is one of the busiest travel months of the year. If people were flying, we'd at least see flat numbers, and really should see an increase.

    So, what did United have to say? Their load factor is down 3.1% YOY. This number is especially significant because through a merger, those numbers should be up. United also has a large international footprint, so as we know anecdotally here, people aren't coming to the US. Now they don't separate out International v. Domestic LF, but they do break out the RASM per market segment. And what does that tell us? International is off 3% and Domestic 2.6%. It appears that not only are people not coming to the US, but that people in the US aren't traveling, either.

    Delta's traffic? Well, their system traffic for August wasn't off as dramatically as UA, but again, dig into the numbers. While international traffic increased 1.9%, Domestic actually decreased 1.8%. People in the US are not flying within the US at the levels they were a year ago.

    Over at US Airways they're trying to paint a rosy picture. They note "record load factors", but there was a decrease in capacity, so of course the LF would be higher. Look at the enplanements: down 1.5% for the month of August.

    As the largest domestic carrier, Southwest is the best way to measure these trends. What did WN see in August? Enplanements flat, LF decreased.

    Of course there are a confluence of factors: economy, joblessness, and TSA. I don't think it's an accident that TSA complaints were up 40% this summer and systemwide bookings were down. The forecasts are also obviously down, or the airlines wouldn't be making the cuts they're making to their fall and winter schedules.
    myadvice likes this.
  3. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    thanks for the info. when I flew to SEA two weeks ago, I noticed something interesting. I had screwed up and got a flight at a NOS terminal, so re-booked on Southwest, which used gates not covered by NOS. Within two days whilst I was looking for a flight I wanted, getting close to the departure date, all of a sudden a new category of fares opened up on Southwest's web site, less than half the cost of their normal fares. So of course I grabbed one of those. Which tells me that they are desperate to fill seats. Which tells me the stats saying all flights are full are suspect. If you have to give something away to get business, then the business can't be all that healthy.
  4. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    I'm a non-rev. I haven't had a single problem getting on a flight this summer, even on very high demand routes.

    Bookings are down. There's no other way to explain it.
  5. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    I am currently assessing the upcoming Air Canada strike and trying to decide what to do this week as a backup for my flight. I was shocked to find space pretty much wide open on UA and a few other carriers using miles, in business class. There are still lots of Americans around here, and September typically is not low season for leisure travel, but I had a choice of flights either using miles or upgrading an economy ticket using an instrument.

    (Of course, the decision to route through the US or via another country is factoring in my decision as well at the moment)
  6. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    Thanks, barbell, very interesting indeed.

    I watched the O'Reilly-Coulter clip recently (not two of my favorite people, but Coulter really despised TSA). Coulter cited some interesting numbers. I'm going off memory, but only about 45% of Americans ever fly. Of those, I think only about 10% fly more than 4 times a year.

    TSA makes efforts to beat pax into submission. I recall two different TSOs posting at different times that they had tried not barking at their airports and it "didn't work" (because folks keep showing up at the checkpoint unprepared and with disallowed items.

    Of course, one of the TSOs admitted that people are ignoring the barking because they still show up at the checkpoint unprepared. And airports outside the US generally seem to operate just as smoothly (if not more so) without barking.

    Point is, frequent flyers will generally try to figure out personal paths of least resistance through the security gauntlet. Frequent flyers may even ask about checkpoint experiences at airports they are unfamiliar with.

    Unfortunately, those frequent flyers are less than 10% (if you accept Coulter's figure). The rest of the flying public are either first-time or very infrequent flyers. The first-timers are unlikely to be aware of any resource other than possibly the blog for information - and we know the blog has been out-of-date for its entire existence and there seems TSA has no interest in improving it.

    TSA's 'business model' for training the flying public unfortunately is hindered by the fact that most of the flying public are highly inexperienced or first-time flyers, some of whom pontificate about 'anything for safety' even though they never fly.

    I think part of what may have contributed to the drop-off this summer is that the new gropes have entered the public awareness. Holidays and summer are peak travel periods. TSA rolled this out last fall and as we entered summer, folks increasingly just didn't want to deal with the hassle, esepcially since the string of hits (videos, thefts, etc). just keeps on coming. Some folks are starting to realize that the 'checkpoint' is no longer a few minutes of hassle.

    And, although it may not always be evident at the checkpoint, it's obvious that a lot of folks really really don't like getting handled, particularly in the ham-handed way many TSOs do it.

    I think it will change over time. I think many of the folks who object are older and have a better of sense of 1) how things used to be and 2) what US Constitutional rights were (when we still had them). Younger folks aren't getting educated about their rights and freedoms, so they'll never know what they've lost and younger folks generally are learning to live in a budding police state where from childhood they are urged to report on anything and everyone and they are trained to be patted, groped, xrayed, interrogated on demand.
    Lisa Simeone, RadioGirl and myadvice like this.
  7. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    rockon, spot on on all points.

    I can't remember where Coulter's numbers came from, but I've heard the same from another source. If I recollect correctly, it's actually 30% ever fly and less than 7% fly more than 4 times a year.

    There are people who are petrified of flying. They will do anything to be safe, and then eventually take the path of least resistance, which is to not fly at all. We're starting to see the fruits of that trend.
    myadvice likes this.
  8. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    I think however we are facing two different issues.

    1) this simply isn't an issue to most of the people who do not fly, and to many of the people who fly once every 1-2 years and think that nothing has changed (or that they didn't have a bad experience 18 months ago when they flew and hence the uproar is about nothing)

    2) those who do fly every so often, and are simply ignorant. This category scares me. I think that most of us have seen the internet posters who appear oblivious about what to many of us are simple basics, and who refuse to learn. An example is the woman who flew from the US to France, and onwards to Barcelona and back, and who claimed that her 14 year old son was very thoroughly searched by Customs at CDG when she connected from Barcelona to CDG to the US. Most of us know that she most likely meant airport security on her return to the US, and that it was most likely a US-driven search on a US-bound carrier, but to her French 'Customs' is horrible. Another poster told me that a Nexus card would have done nothing to reduce his three hour wait at 'Customs' at LAX (he meant Immigration, and a Nexus card would give entry to GE lanes).

    We can try and educate the first group, and they may show some interest, or concern, but it really isn't their battle, and thus we should not expect a lot from them. Sometimes we do find they speak out, such as the FT poster who flies once a year to WDW but who is a staunch defender of rights.

    The second group is actually the one which I think is often fighting against us. They don't know some of the basic facts, and more importantly, they don't care to learn. So when this discussion arises, they often throw out red herrings, or worse act as the experts to their friends and colleagues, and tell them that this is all a big uproar about nothing.

    Fighting ignorance is difficult; fighting ignorant people who refuse to acknowledge that they do not know everything is often almost impossible.
  9. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    There are also older, retired folks who are quitting flying. These are folks who looked forward to the freedom of retirement and travel. Importantly, these are folks who have the time to consider alternate transportation - and I know a disproportionately large number of my personal older acquaintances/family members are turning to alternate forms of transportation because of the cumulative hassle and the gropes.

    "Cumulative hassle" - it's no one component, but taken all together, the grope put it over the top. It started out similar to courthouse screenings - toss your bag on a belt and walk through an arch and you are done. Alarm and retry or (less frequently) get wanded. And that's it.

    Now it can start with BDO's in the parking garage or while in line to the TDC. ID's out, back in, out again, BP out - no BP away - no BP out, ID away, shoes off, bark-bark-holler, outerwear off, belts off, laptops and other large electronics out, go here, no go there, stand like a criminal, hold your breath, do it all right, ooops, someone was asleep at the wheel, grope time... and then, just when you think you are finally free to go, regroup, catch your breath and plane, it starts up all over again.

    Beverage testing, gate bag and ID re-checks, BDOs following you to the bathroom to pursue a conversation.

    No wonder folks with the luxury of time and choice are doing so. Sadly, but they are doing so.
  10. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    All too true. I run into that often with new users of our equipment and it is an up hill battle with them to teach them something since they know it all already.
    Lisa Simeone and barbell like this.
  11. myadvice

    myadvice Original Member

    "Cumulative hassle" describes this phenomenon well.

    Air travel has been made worse in this last decade. A good chunk of it has been TSA related (which earlier posts have commented on) but airlines have
    also been significant contributers to making the travel experience more of a hassle and less rewarding.

    First, airlines have made flying much less convenient by closing and reducing hubs and "focus cities" that were efficient from a travelers perspective and routed everyone through mega hubs that frequently experience delays. Second they have invented new fees that make it harder and more expensive to purchase their product over the telephone and through travel agencies. Third, they have invented new fees that have devalued the fare purchase by adding bag fees, assigned seat fees, earling boarding fees, etc. Onboard the plane, they have shrunk the coach cabin space per person to unbearable levels, eliminated meals and some airlines have even tried to charge people for water. Yeild management has given us fuller planes which means that slight hickups such as a single canceled flight or mild weather events can mean that passengers can no longer count on getting to a their destination the same day anymore. Finally airlines have devalued frequent flier programs, especially in terms of short trips for all but the high-tier fliers.

    The sum of this is that short-haul airline trips have become increasing less relevant and less cost and time effective to the traveler when compared to car travel. Now add in the TSA testicle squeezes and a breast feels and it becomes a perfect storm of epic proportions. Is it no wonder that now more people are choosing to drive 10 hours or more rather than fly?
  12. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    When I plan my travel, I realize there is a tangible and real threat from these TSA jerks, and now, in the Hebshi case, DHS, FBI, and airport mall cop jerks, and the real possibility that I will not be traveling as expected because I won't put up with being sexually groped or strip searched. This is an extremely unpleasant set of scenarios to have to contend with. Who in the h*ll wants this? So I fly only if I absolutely have to and the train will not suffice. The number of those not flying for similar reason is really incalculable, but it is probably a large enough number to affect the airlines' bottom line. I suspect that is a huge factor in the public posturing of the TSA and of John Pistole the *sshole hinting that things are getting better in this area. Yet, in the midst of their PR campaign, they pull a Hebshi out of the hat and let it slip that they'll violate us anyway they want.

    Show us the money, John.
  13. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    I've said it before, I'll say it again. Because of everything that myadvice says, not necessarily because I pay for things like seat assignments or checked bags, but I certainly sit in my fair share of cramped middle seats and deal with all of the obnoxious behavior of inexperienced flyers who know what they're doing. :rolleyes:

    Add to that nachtnebel's very valid point that if I don't encounter the very real possibility of being retraumatized at the checkpoint, it's abundantly clear that a strip and cavity search at the hands of some coward with an overactive imagination is likely.

    And so, even though I fly for free, when I can drive, even I don't fly.

    I can't imagine paying for a ticket and then having to go through all of that on top of it.
    myadvice likes this.
  14. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Speaking of older folks, I'm on the committee planning a 50th high school reunion and we are most likely going to fall short of our attendance goal. We're learning that many people who live a distance won't fly and really don't want to drive either. :(
    AngryMiller likes this.
  15. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    But don't change your lives because of terrorists!

    Doober, that is too sad.

    Everybody, sing along (stolen from the comments section of Ms. Hebshi's blog):

    America! America!
    Don't stomp your boot on me!
    A moral void, all paranoid,
    From sea to polluted sea!
  16. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    That's terrible. :( Is meeting somewhere in the middle a possibility?
  17. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    No, not possible Sunny as part of the weekend revolves around activities at our old high school.
  18. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    Sad that one governmental agency could disrupt life here in the US and only a few sit up and take notice.
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  19. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    I think what happens is that people notice, but are too afraid to speak out. The Fear Continues campaign is very effective.

    It also appears that the Tattle on Your Neighbor campaign is gaining momentum.
    Lisa Simeone and rockon like this.
  20. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    Kind of ironic, isn't it?

    We are increasingly seeing certain government actors trying to prevent public videos or photos of their public actions.

    Yet these same government folks are encouraging us to video/photograph/report on our fellow citizens'.

    "See something, say someting" - unless the person you see is a government actor (TSO, cop). :rolleyes:
    Lisa Simeone, Doober, barbell and 3 others like this.

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