Airline security recently asked a friend of mine to remove her sweatshirt. She had no shirt underneath. Luckily they settled for patting her down, though I personally would have liked to see their response had she unquestioningly obliged their initial request.
So is the story of airline travel in post-9-11 America. We get patted, prodded, sniffed and scanned in the name of anti-terrorism. Long lines add to the insult of “security-related” fees tacked onto our airfare.
Then, of course, there is the airline industry response to their additional costs—the dramatic scaling back of perks. Gone are the free peanuts, pretzels, beverages, and in-flight meals. (Hey, they may not have been great…but they were free.) Gone are the free checked bags. Gone are the oxygen masks in the loo. The cuts of the airline industry know no bounds.
Recent evidence suggests that airlines may be empowered to reverse both of these disturbing industry trends by reinstating their many in-flight perks—and maybe throwing in an occasional serving of champagne and caviar. A recent story (which can be read in its entirety here) indicates that terrorists involved in the attempted airline bombing of Christmas 2009 were averted from implementing their attack on a Chicago-bound flight not by our nation’s many security measures, but by the cost of the flight.
Therein lies the logic–By reinstating airline perks, and forcing a subsequent increase in the base cost of air travel, airfare would be elevated outside of the reach of cash-strapped terrorists, allowing for a scaling back of screening procedures. Consumers would even recover some costs through a reduction in those pesky security fees.
If I had to choose between paying security fees and bringing my own snacks, or having in-flight perks returned… I know which way I’d lean.