We baby boomers travel a lot, don’t we?!? More than our parents ever did. That was only a positive until our active lifestyle started taking its toll on our limbs and organs and joints. And one man who feels the difference is BoomerCafé co-founder and publisher David Henderson. He’s got a message for the people who often make traveling a lot tougher than it has to be.
If you are a baby boomer and anything like me, chances are you are carrying around a spare part or two. In my case, it’s a right knee replacement … about eleven ounces of titanium. And that doesn’t go down well with the people at the Transportation Security Administration, a.k.a. airport security.
In the U.S. — a country which does not embrace profiling at airports even though most of the bad guys in recent years have been easy to fit into a profile — we are being subjected to increased and more invasive TSA inspections at airports when we have joint replacements. But that’s just in the U.S.
Leaving Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport recently — unquestionably the most security-conscious airport in the world, and probably the most efficient — my right knee of course beeped as I walked through security. A polite young woman took my passport and boarding pass, and asked me to take a seat in a row of chairs lined up against a wall.
Within a couple of minutes, another woman approached me to ask a precise set of questions, including where had I been in Israel and what was the purpose of my visit. She seemed to know the answers already and looked me straight in the eye as she listened to my responses. She then thanked me, and told me I could go.
There was no pat-down, intrusive or otherwise … no metal-detecting wand … no swabbing for explosives … no rude TSA treatment.
Something similar happened in Munich’s airport last year. I walked through the upright metal detector and informed the inspector that I had a right knee replacement. He looked me straight in the face and immediately asked me for the name of the company that made the knee prosthetic. I replied, “BioMet.” He smiled, thanked me, and said I was free to go.
What happened at Tel Aviv and Munich… as well as other international airports where security is intense… is called, intelligence. The inspectors use profiling and are trained to ask precise questions. If a person flinches in a response, then there’s another level of screening. I didn’t fit the profile of a bad guy… and I didn’t flinch.
Incidentally, passengers are not asked to remove shoes … whether in Tel Aviv, Munich, Frankfurt or most other major world airports.
Americans from all sides of the aisle are raising questions about Homeland Security’s newest level of airport screening. It is becoming more rude, more invasive of privacy, and more of a hassle while, at the same time, demonstrating less of an intelligent approach.
When a veteran flight attendant and cancer survivor who has flown for more than 30 years is forced by TSA to reveal her prosthetic breast, things have gone too far.
Not only are people over age fifty being singled out simply because of age-caused joint replacements, but young children are being singled out, and airline pilots are up in arms. I mean, are we really afraid that someone who’s about to take the stick of the airplane and in whose lives we put our hands is going to sneak something dangerous through security?!? We all should be outraged.
Even Glenn Beck said recently, “How is it the freest country in the history of the world is now subjecting their citizens to panty pat-downs?”
Actually, the TSA procedure is no longer a “pat-down.” It’s a firm rub-down by TSA agents who refuse to use fresh gloves for each passenger.
At the same time, much of the rest of the world … in countries that have been confronting terror attacks far longer than here in the U.S. … there is a more intelligent approach to airport security. They profile and look for people who actually could be a threat. They are constantly on-guard, watching for danger, and not pre-occupied over whether you’ve taken your laptop out of its case, or whether your tube of toothpaste exceeds the regs.
We have become a process-oriented country while much of the rest of the civilized world is focusing on critical thinking and intelligence in their approach to staying safe. As a result, the baby boomer with spare parts is one of those victims being singled out for the roughest treatment by TSA.
And here’s an epilogue: my colleague and co-founder of BoomerCafé, Greg Dobbs, just made a quick trip to Australia, so quick that he didn’t even carry a suitcase, just a laptop carry-on. And when I sent him this story, here’s what he told me in response:
“Leaving Australia, I was able to take all the toothpaste I wanted through security; I mean, I had a big fat tube of the stuff that would have failed the test in the U.S. but guess what. No one complained. And joy of joys: I didn’t have to take off my shoes!!!”
Sure, we’re probably somewhat safer because of airport searches. But Greg’s note is more testimony that TSA has taken things too far.