December 30, 2013


Many of the problems with air travel can be directly attributed to the TSA. The whole time-wasting, privacy-invading aspect of all of it is bad on its face, but there are indirect harms, as well. The whole reason you have to get to the airport 90 minutes to two hours before boarding is that you don’t know how long it’s going to take to get through security. If you knew it would take 10 minutes — or, better yet, zero minutes — you could get there 15 to 20 minutes before boarding and be fine.

The just-in-time arrival point is really key. On Friday, I had the pleasure of flying on Cape Air from Lebanon, N.H., to White Plains, N.Y. Cape Air is a commuter airline, and as this flight was on a plane with a total of eight passengers (plus the pilot), and disembarked outside the secure or “sterile” zone of the White Plains airport, it was exempt from TSA passenger screening requirements as laid out in §1544.101 of title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The flight was at 11 a.m., and boarded at 10:50, so I got to the airport around 10:30. I could have gotten there at 10:45, and it would’ve been totally fine. I just walked up to the airline counter, gave my name, got my ticket and walked into the aircraft. Because the plane was so small, you have less control over your carry-ons than you might usually, as the crew has to carefully place luggage so as to not put the plane off balance. But you also are spared baggage claim upon arrival, as the plane is unloaded for you right on the tarmac. It felt basically like riding Amtrak, or Bolt Bus. You just show up, show a ticket, and get on. No muss, no fuss.

That’s how flying used to be. Meanwhile, here’s my call to abolish the TSA.

UPDATE: Reader Ed Clark writes:

If the description is true, maybe there is a market for “micro” airlines. Small flights, nationwide, outside the TSA.
Motto: “Pay little more but be treated with respect”.

It could work. I wrote about something similar here.

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