I had the luxury of being in the air during the wee hours of Thursday morning last week when the London terror plot was uncovered and the arrests were made. When I landed in Minneapolis at 5am I found myself standing amongst the crowd of CNN-watchers and thinking, "Here we go again". It's good to see this sort of thing prevented and while I'm glad the US and UK are obviously doing a pretty good job of preventing another attack, I'm not entirely satisfied. I feel bad for the folks who lost hundreds of dollars in perfume and makeup due to the sudden shift in airline policy (you can no longer take any fluid or gel-like substance on a plane) but moreso, I mourn our nation's increasing loss of common sense.
Under the new rules, most people are going to have to check every bag they bring on a plane. That's fine. You then take your liquid-less personal items over to security where they then root out any other prohibited items before you can continue on towards your gate. Congratulations, you now possess no contraband and are cleared for boarding your flight.
Wouldn't it make sense then, that anything you purchase at a store near your gate is also secure and deemed safe? Such as a bottle of water or a venti americano from Starbucks? After all, didn't the coffee and bottled beverages pass through security too? Apparently not.
This is the opposite of the post-9/11 reaction when any and all blade-like objects were banned but anybody could get their hands on a fork or knife at a restaurant at the gate. Now, we can buy a cup of coffee at the gate but can't take it on the plane. And why not? Because we're addicted to sweeping knee-jerk reactions that make little to no sense.
As someone who flies 6 or more times a year and always buys a giant cup of coffee prior to boarding, this is especially frustrating. But imagine how the companies paying those exhorbitant airport rents are going to feel? I'm just one traveler and I can tell you that on Monday alone I bought two less venti americano's than I would have otherwise. That's right, Starbucks, you lost out. And considering I was flying Northwest Air, the absolute cheapest and worst airline I've ever stepped foot on, I was pretty aggravated (on a nearly 5-hour flight from Detroit to Seattle, NWA not only failed to hand out a single packet of peanuts or pretzels, but only offered one measly beverage service). And let's not get started on the relatively recent reports on the horrendous quality of on-plane tap water used in the coffee.
The funny part about this is that you can buy a bottle of anything from a store at the gate and put it in your pocket and have no problem boarding the plane with it. Nor should you. But try that with coffee and you're going to have one serious mess on your hands, not to mention second-degree burns. So you have to hold it where it's out in the open and easily confiscated.
They don't have any detection devices at the gates so anybody and everybody can easily bring bottles of soda, water, or anything else purchased at the gate onto the plane. Hmmm... maybe I'll just have to switch to those easily-smugglable canned Starbuck's Double Shots.