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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Text Message from Sean Nelson

Posted by on August 10 at 12:48 PM

And I quote:

Note to air travelers. The security line begins in the parking garage and takes a minimum of two and a half hours to get through. If you’re flying first class or have no carry-on luggage, it takes about ten minutes. I think this is a commentary on race and class in America, but I’m too cranky to parse it. Safe travels.

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What???? Race and class in America???? How about the fact that there are about 10 seats up there, so the line for that is 10 people long, and if you have no carry-on, well, then you don't have to wait for the x-ray machine...

This seems more to be a commentary on LOGIC.

The fact that Sean himself cannot afford first class, well, that story might have a commentary on race and class in America somewhere in it, but the fact that first class moves quicker does not seem to, at all.

I love when people complain about things like this. For just one second, imagine if this plot had not been stopped. Just for one little minute. If it means we have to wait in line longer, so be it. If you don't want to wait, do everyone a favor and stay home.

Well yeah, It's called first CLASS for a reason.

Clearly we're seeing more of that white privilege at work here. Let's sound the alarms and write a dissertation on it.

So now "carry-on luggage" is a matter of class and race. Incredible.

Race and class in America? Are you kidding me? Having a shorter line for "first class" has nothing to do with race!

There are people out there who are willing to spend the extra dollar for convenience. Not everyone in first class has class or is in the demographic of the stereotypical first class traveler.

wah wah! :'(

BR misses the point. I can see how people with no luggage (both of them) can be allowed to glide through, but First Class first shouldn't apply to security. What, well-supported terrorists are always going to fly coach?

Audrey sounds like a troll, but if not she also misses the point.

Ron, you miss the point too.

You are all forgetting that the 9/11 terrorists were flying first class. Granted first class is probably 5-10% of all passengers, so it makes sense the lines for non-first class should take longer, that seems right. Also first class seating is not restricted by race or class, it is restricted by your disposable income or frequent flyer miles.

However, if by traveling first class you go through less security; that does give an ironic twist to the entire security charade. It seems the only mistake the thwarted terrorists made was flying coach. It has been proved that 1st class is a security weakness and one that has been exploited. Yet since there is money to made, the economic benefit outweighs the safety risk (which, arguably, it should do anyway).

Urea can be used for bombs, so what's next, closing airplane restrooms and patting everyone down to make sure they aren't catheterized.
We could be really really safe and make everyone fly naked, or maybe undress and wear hospital gowns.

I don't think I missed the point. As said by Audrey, there are less people in first class thus making the wait time less then coach.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that equation.

And as I said, we're talking about security, not boarding the plane or check-in with the airline. Genius.

What defines "carry on luggage". I'm flying next week. If I put on a pair of cargo pants and stuff the pockets with a book, my iPod, my camera and a sandwich, can I forgo the long screening lines?

Just remember, the new US Passports all have RFID and are easily cloned, so don't be surprised to read that YOU were one of the "terrorists" - all they have to do is pop in the chip with a bit of programming after getting within three feet of you to do a scan and they can be you.

Sure, costs a bit of money to buy the reader, but you can use it over and over.

It's like electronic voting - if you trust it, you don't know how easy it is to defeat it's "security".

Why are first-class passengers allowed to go through a separate security line?

Refer to this comment, from another post:

" lines would be way shorter and a lot of our problems would be solved if airlines weren't so breathtakingly incompetent about baggage handling. People fly in constant fear of losing all their baggage, and so travel with as much crap as they can jam into a carry-on. No wonder we have problems getting through security lines with any kind of efficiency. If they actually trusted the airlines not to lose all their shit, people would travel with, like, a book, an I-Pod and maybe a laptop.

We should divert some Homeland Security funds to official baggage overseers, and quit relying on clueless, underpaid yokels. There should also be a system of punishment here...Currently, these bumbling jackass airlines can deposit your belongings in the middle of the ocean without facing consequences, other than an irate passenger they can flick to the side with some pissy little coupon. Bullshit, I say!"

Audrey's actually correct:

Average Boeing 737 flight:
First class seats: 12
Coach seats: 125

The disparity's even greater on larger jets

It's pretty obvious from the numbers why first class takes relatively little time to get through security and board.

Oh, and re: class divisions... first class tickets cost many times more than a coach ticket, which itself is rather expensive these days. That's just a matter of simple economics. You get what you pay for. This isn't T-ball: everybody doesn't get to win.

oh, and I'd forget the iPod and the camera.

the book - probably will get you in trouble - we're not allowed to think, it's a thoughtcrime. unless it's about how glorious our Reichsfuhrer is.

I understand the point YOU are making. However, I think the way it was written isn't very clear and has NOTHING to do with race and class in America - that's absurd!

I could just be absorbing it the wrong way because the lack of actual content in the original post. If there was more on how race and class have to do with National Security (for example), then I would have responded in a different way.

From my understanding; correct me if I'm wrong. A terrorist can come in all shapes, colors and sizes. YOU - working class and/or business class person can be a terrorist too!

What I would like to know is what race and class in America have to do with security AND the lines that you have to wait in at the airport for coach vs. first class.

What about lines in other parts of the world right now? Race and class in London?

"Also first class seating is not restricted by race or class, it is restricted by your disposable income or frequent flyer miles."

This is hilarious.

What if I carry my iPod in my turban? Will that get me through faster?

But wait, is there actually a different security line for people flying first class? I am the only one who never heard of this before? I don't know about race and class, but that is pretty messed up.

But wait, is there actually a different security line for people flying first class? I am the only one who never heard of this before? I don't know about race and class, but that is pretty messed up.

Ron, your point here is well taken. Sean Nelson was probably being a bit knee-jerk when he said race and class, although I'd assume he's saying that poor people can't afford First Class.

But Fnarf has the real question - why should you breeze through security because you're in First Class? Security is a function meant to ensure the safety of all. First Class is fine for ticketing and boarding, but it's bullshit that you can pay your way through security too.

You don't "breeze through security". You are still scrutinized, but the line is a lot shorter because it is designated for First Class passengers only. You pay for the shorter line, not the lack of scrutiny.

Can anyone independently confirm there is a separate security line for first class?

I've never seen that before.

If there is, it's time to start a revolution.

As for the long lines for people with carry-ons: they are long overdue.

I hate all these yuppies who think they should be able to check nothing, and slow down the system trying to stuff their carry-ons into every available inch of cabin storage.

Before, it was just inconvenient.

Now, that god, it's become a security issue - so maybe they'll finally have the sense to stop.

not just first class has separate lines, but also really high mileage frequent fliers get the special treatment sometimes too...If you're in one of the "Elite" categories for NW/KLM you can often go straight to the head of the line or a completely separate line.

There is indeed a seperate line for first class and airline employees at most airports.

On the east coast, people with coach tickets for shuttle flights (e.g. between NYC and Boston for example) can sometimes also use these shorter lines. That way the airlines can compete better with the high speed train service.

"This isn't T-ball: everybody doesn't get to win." Absolutely correct.

The lines will eventually settle down, either with better screening staff or a less hysterical policy in the near future. The airlines would lose too much buisiness to have 3 hours waits for passangers, particularly for short haul flights that could be replaced by a drive.

"For just one second, imagine if this plot had not been stopped. Just for one little minute. If it means we have to wait in line longer, so be it."

Totally. A pain in the ass, yes, but this is a *good* news overall.

Okay, if there really is a separate line for first class passengers through TSA screening - The Stranger better do an expose on it.

That can't be allowed to stand. It's our government, for chrissakes.

Jon's right. Let's get rid of First Class mail too! Whose post office? MY POST OFFICE!

All of you complaining about people traveling with carry-ons: I have had my luggage lost too many times to count, and the airlines could care less. My husband was without clothes for four days in the middle of winter in New York during the subway strike. I have a friend who works for an airline and says you'd be crazy to check anything. If the airlines got their crap together, I wouldn't need to bring carry-ons. Until then, I'll just stick to my one, small bag (and until I can bring a bottle of water on my 12 hour flight, I will not fly).

Let's see...the terrorists were going to COMBINE LIQUIDS to make explosives, so we must keep liquids off planes. Instead, we're creating very large crowds and COMBINING LIQUIDS in big buckets right there at the crowded security gates. Brilliant.

If the plot was real and any of the suspects are still at large, their jobs are much easier today.

I take translantic flights about three or four times a year and many of the people I see in the first-class line when checking in are of Saudi or Pakistani descent. Is it still a class/race issue? Pretty much you pay 8,000 dollars for that flight so you don't have to wait in such long lines, you have a larger baggage allowance, you can stretch out and sleep on those long-haul overnight flights and you get a better meal. (plus you get free fancy bath products too)

Besides a good portion of the restrictions are temporary. Like with 9/11 initially you couldn't even bring on a set of nail clippers.

temporary? you mean like the War in Iraq? um, it's been going on longer than World War II.

you might call that temporary. I call it permanent until certain people are retired.

Last night at the soccer game, there was a long wait to get in (I don't know how long because I exercised my freedom and cut the line). Probably about 30 minutes. Anyway, "club" and "suite" patrons got in for free.

Airports and stadiums were built with public funds. Would you support a special lane on the freeway for rich people? Higher-quality tap water? Preferential treatment during blackouts?

I don't mind first-class passengers getting a little benefit, but whisking them through while hundreds stand in line?

That's just tacky.

I, for one, will not feel safe until we can suck ALL the liquids out of passengers before they board (kinda like in Tank Girl).

I call bullshit on the claim that airlines *always* lose luggage. I have lost luggage exactly once in all my travels, when I took the fucking train. Even my checked luggage on American Airlines into Haiti and Air Afrique into Senegal made it through intact. Now, with this new scare, airlines should allow one small, carry-on per passenger.

If you just want to detonate a bomb on a plane, it would be just as easy to do it in the baggage compartment. Seems to me the emphasis on carry-ons is left over from the old idea of hijacking. And a nice way to make people afraid right before an election.

Oh, I want to be sarcastic too...

To GW BUSH and the other Repub appointees running the government "more wealth = more responsible". Responsible people do not "blow things up", they engage in debate and donate to political/social causes. Also, responsible people will spend their money on luxuries like first class airline tickets, "suites", and "club-level" anything. Reverse that, and the Repubs running things feel that less responsible people are the less wealthy in America. And due to the lack of gumption on the part of the less responsible, they are not working hard enough to become wealthy. As well, less responsible people are more willing to "blow things up", or act violently in other manners, then debate or engage in political/social causes.

Today the ruling class does not have a "let them eat cake" meme, it is a "let them eat Top Ramen". And wait in longer lines then those wealthy, responsible people.

Americans are finally getting a taste of what life is like in Israel every day. El-Al airlines has the most advanced security in the world. Long waits are the norm. We must kill all the islamo-terrorists, and we must not change our American way of life one bit. Keep flying and taking driving vacations. If we change our lifestyle, the terrorists will have won.

Air security is a joke. Virtually unscreened people crawl all over every plane while it's on the ground. Those cleaners and baggage loaders? They don't go through security at all; they punch a code in a lockbox. You think a terrorist wouldn't work a job cleaning planes for a month or two? And what's to stop a terrorist from detonating his bomb at the security gate -- which is packed with even more people than the plane?

Read this:

I think there should be no question that TSA's offering of a separate security line for first-class passengers is illegal--since when does the federal government have the right to distinguish among passengers based on how much they paid private airlines for their tickets? Since when does the government have any business facilatating private airlines' pampering of first-class passengers?

In fact, I believe you will find that if you, a coach passenger, go up to the first-class line and tell them they have no authority to prefer passengers based on ticket class, they will let you through. Even if this favoritism were stautorily authorized (I bet it is not), the statute must have constitutional problems--from an equal protection, due process, or right to travel standpoint (I can't say which--I'm a little rusty).

Even if coach passengers are not a suspect class, what's the rational basis for favoring one group of citizens over another based on ticket prices, all you newbie Con Law buffs?

Fred Kaplan at Slate has a great article describing how the British detected this plot.

Apparently a willingness to work with Pakistani intelligence service was key. He does a nice job of laying out how Bush's absolutist no contact with "evildoers" policy restricts our own ability to work with others around the world to stop plots such as these.

Like we need any more evidence of what an incompetent ass Bush is...

So at SeaTac, the express lines are for First/elite members, airport staff, folks in wheelchairs, and folks with no carry ons. TSA does not regulate lines -- the airlines and airport authorities determine who may use the express lines.

TSA simply screens people. (The express lines and regular lines merge immediately past the ID checkers, who are not TSA).

It's worth noting that the majority of the folks using these lines are the folks who travel every week and pay the high fares -- thus the folks who keep the airlines afloat.

Today's trick: Your Rapid Rewards (Southwest FF program) card is valid for express screening at the central checkpoint, as Southwest does not have an elite program.

Golob's point is the key. The security screeners catch nothing. It's all for show. The only way to stop a terrorist from blowing up a plane, or anything else, isn't some hopeless screening; it's good solid police intelligence investigation. We're xraying your shoes and confiscating your chapstick, FOR NO REASON, while the real work is being done elsewhere.


The 14th amendment (equal protection) ain't gonna protect our poor asses here. The Supremes have said that discrimination on the basis of wealth or class is scrutinized under the rational basis test, a test you Washintonians may be familiar with from the recent gay marriage decision. You ain't got a homo's chance at a legal marriage on winning an equal protection claim.

I am aware of the difficulty of invalidating anything under the rational basis test, underscored by the recent decision. But tell me: can you articulate a rational basis for this? Also, I am mulling over Doug's argument that the lines, as opposed to the screening, are an airline operation, with no governmental involvement. It seems unlikely to me that TSA has nothing to do with determining how the lines work. At the very least, TSA is passively permitting discriiminatory access to a federal "service."

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