Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Post 9/11: The effects on the modern day traveler

Today is September 11, 2007, and it's been 6 years since the tragic events of 9/11. This innocent date has been associated with more than just tragedy and grief for the victims and their families. This date has slowly and subtly touched all of our lives, dare I even say that everyone in the world has been effected, in little ways.

From my perspective, the people and business's that started to suffer after all the tragedy, were the airlines. A combination of people being afraid of air travel and the cost of increased security measures hit them hard. Airlines had to cut costs somewhere, so they started to cut back the food served on the airplanes. Since I inspect airline kitchens for a living, I have heard first hand from them how they have suffered since 2001.

I have visited many dilapidated kitchens where the atmosphere was grim, and I see that wistful look that says, it wasn't always like this. Before, kitchens used to cook meals..now, maybe if your lucky, a frozen pop out is put on the plane, otherwise you can buy some peanuts or a sandwich. Slowly air travel has come back and is even stronger than before, but the airline kitchens haven't been able to make that same recovery.

If we continue down the line to the people effected, we arrive at the modern world traveler. The world has really become small, with people traveling more than ever for business and pleasure. Over the last two years, I have had to endure removing my shoes and belt, being patted down/frisked/ groped in front of people, my belongings searched, interrogated for an hour before even checking in, had my hair mousse confiscated, and forced to stuff beauty products into a tiny zip lock bag. When I think of travel now, I think of how long it will take me to go through security, how long will I have to wait at Passport control, and how delayed my flight be.

My first hand experience with enhanced security measures/nightmare happened last August 10 2006. When England had discovered plots to blow up planes using liquids. This basically turned London airport into Chaos, and they canceled a ton of flights. When they allowed plane to start landing again, they decided to put in tougher measures. I happened to be flying to England two days later, and I was forced to check everything I had, including my laptop. When I landed, as luck would have it, my baggage was lost, so I had absolutely nothing except my wallet. There were police everywhere, and the lines for check-in extended outside the airport.

For a few months after August, security was very strict and they wouldn't allow any liquids on the plane. I remember one time I bought a water bottle from Starbucks near my gate, and they took my cap away, so I couldn't bring it with me on the plane! Eventually they loosened up a bit, and started to allow liquids as long as they were less than 100ml (3oz) and in a clear zip lock bag. I have pretty much given up on carry on's, after having my contraband gels or mousse thrown out in front of me.

So, if you think you have not been affected by 9/11 and the surrounding events, think twice. Next time your hand cream is thrown out, the next time your frisked like a criminal, the next time you have to buy a sandwich on board your flight instead of getting a free meal...you can thank the terrorists in this world. In the end though, those are small concessions in order to be safe. I say to the terrorists out there, have fun in your all men anti-American training camps, I am still going to Hawaii.

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