Seattle, Flying and Security (plus Alaska Airline Sucks)

February 3rd, 2005

I can’t decide if I saw security procedure work this morning, or was once again brought face to face with TSA’s incompetence. I was yet again flagged for extra security screening, a rather familiar procedure by now, yet I was able to walk through 2 security checkpoints without being being so much as patted down, and was quietly sitting at the gate before anyone noticed. At some point someone seems to have called my gate, who paged me, and I was sent back to the original security check point, which this being SeaTac meant I had to traverse a half dozen escalators, and a train trip back to the main terminal.

Back at security I was able to observe what appeared to by a list of people who had checked in and were flagged for the extra screening, including what time they had checked in. I guess I had been in the terminal long enough that they were wondering why I hadn’t passed through the extra screening. I wonder if I had been running late if I could have made it on to the plane before anyone thought to check? Logically my approaching boarding time should have triggered a search event, however the log was just a piece of paper with a list of names on it, and something tells me I would have slipped through.

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One of the interesting things about flying out of Seattle is there are always Microsoft people on the plane; flying out to MIT to a recruiting fair, or to Chicago for a product demo, or down to their Silicon Valley campus. It’s the only time I actually meet anyone who still works over there. I traipsing back and forth and back again to the checkpoint while people around me chattered about their latest MS Office product meeting I couldn’t help but wondering if there is something about Seattle that makes people inherently bad at security.

Captive Audience

Unrelated to security (except perhaps when I almost breached the pressure seal on the cabin trying to walk out), I was shocked by Alaska Airlines abuse of its power this morning. 3 hours into flight, the captain came over intercom.

“If I could have everyones attention,” the authoritative voice boomed out. “How would you like if next time you flew, you could get a companion ticket for just $50? Well with the Alaska Airline’s VISA, voted number one in the industry 5 years runnning….”. And the sales pitch went on and on, familiar from late night TV I’m sure.

We squirmed unable to get away from this ads, sucked in by our training to assume that the captain coming over the intercom is to impart important information. I scrambled for my head phones. But the voice penetrated my music with the ominous final rejoinder, “We’ll be passing through the cabin handing out applications.” I won’t be flying Alaska again if I can help it, even though they have one of the few direct flights from Seattle to Boston, this was the last straw. (that and the word “digiplayer” is just so lame sounding, you feel sympathetic embarrassment every time they mention them)

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