Podcast #63 – The 733-Mile Stare; TSA Can’t Help Themselves

Recorded in the TravelCommons studios outside of Chicago after a week of skiing in Colorado. In this episode, we talk about some of the difficulties faced by today’s frequent travelers. A listener gives a blow-by-blow account of the myriad of lines he faced trying to get home from Newark. Another listener relates about the challenges of attending a business conference in a hotel full of 50+ year-old women. We talk about how lengthy delays on the New York-to-Chicago route are giving regular travelers a dazed look that might be called the “733-Mile Stare”. And I have to comment on a couple of recent TSA incidents. Here’s a direct link to the podcast file.


Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #63:

  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded in the TravelCommons studios outside Chicago, IL
  • Just got back from a week’s skiing in Breckenridge and A-Basin in Colorado
  • Wanted to check out the TSA’s new Diamond Lane program that its blog claims is a huge success. However, the security line with the old system was much shorter.
  • Bridge Music — 3 Ghosts I by Nine Inch Nails

Following Up

The 733-Mile Stare

  • During the Vietnam War, the “thousand-yard stare” described the dazed look, the unfocused straight-ahead gaze of the front-line soldier
  • Regular travelers on the Chicago-to-New York run are starting to develop their own dazed look as they try to fight through delays, and cancellations to get home or get to an important meeting
  • Call it the “733-mile stare” – the flight mileage between ORD and LGA
  • USA Today article said that, based on 2007 passenger counts, the ORD-LGA route was the 3rd busiest in the country
  • Bridge Music — Lonely Dog Blues by Tobin James

TSA Can’t Help Themselves

  • USA Today article on TSA forcing a woman to remove nipple rings
  • TSA posted a statement on their website and blog saying that the screeners “properly followed procedures” and that they were “acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day.”
  • Watched a TSA officer in Chicago-O’Hare help a confused Chinese couple find their connecting flight.
  • Why can’t the TSA act more like the ORD officer and spend less time justifying stupid decisions like those in Lubbock?

Closing

Leave a comment

6 Comments.

  1. I’ve noticed in my web logs a few folks going back to T/C #49 — I assume to check out Saurab’s bridge music. To make it a bit easier, here’s a direct link to the post and show notes for episode 49.

  2. Mark,

    In TC #37 you also noted my story about a convention at Disney World a few years ago. A bad place for business meetings.

  3. Mark – you really hit the nail on the head with your point about why people have such little respect for the TSA. I think that if the TSA management could just look through the PR problems through the lens of respect and decency, instead of policy and procedure, they would get a lot more cooperation from us travelers. It’s really hard to give respect when you aren’t getting it. The nipple ring incident was particularly upsetting because they were just so focused on why she was setting the machine off and not on whether a nipple ring constituted an actual threat.
    I think that TSA’s attempts at occasionally saying “oh, we’re stopping all kind of things you never see,” isn’t enough to justify the tax dollars and other intangible dollars spent on “security” and (I mean to use those double quotes!) In this case, actions truly would speak louder than words.

  4. I passed through Denver airport on 9 April night and was very impressed with the TSA process. All the staff were cheery and helpful: the whole experience took less than five minutes despite being in a line behind a family with three children.

    But I don’t know if the friendliness and efficiency is typical of Denver as it was my first visit. 300 AA jets were grounded for safety checks that day, so there were probably a lot fewer people passing through the checkpoint. That must have relieved the pressure on the TSOs.

    But I still don’t understand why the screeners in Denver want to X-ray my shoes, while the screeners in Heathrow don’t care about my shoes and want to X-ray my belt, instead. I have a feeling that it could be down to different screening equipment but that’s just a guess.

  5. Mark,

    The story about the nipple piercings going through the metal detector was amazing! I was in the supermarket as I was listening and started cracking up!

    Viszlát!

    Uncle Drew
    Budacast.hu – Hungary’s podcast

  6. Drew,

    That’s the great thing about this — you can’t make this stuff up.

    Mark