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Our aviation system is in a panic over a terrorist attack that FAILED. Full on panic. All shoes must be removed since the shoe bomber. I suppose now that there is a pants bomber, going through security is going to be a lot more interesting. All we need now is a shirt bomber and going to the airport is going to be like standing around in a locker room.

I used to love flying. Now, I simply can't take it anymore.

I used to love flying. I enjoyed the whole process of getting on the plane. I appreciated the great machinery of industrialization combined with good ol' fashioned American ingenuity. I didn't have a points card, nor did I care about the food or being in first class. I simply liked flying.

I always chose window seats, because I enjoyed surveying the landscape from 35,000 feet. I'd stay awake so I wouldn't miss the great plains meet the Rockies. I love the Rockies. Or when I saw the first glimpse of the Normandy coast, letting me know I had reached Europe. I even loved complaining about air travel to my family, arrogantly reminding them of the ghetto kid who made good. And boy...coming home to New York. It always brought me joy. No matter which airport I approached, be it night or day, New York never fails to impress from the sky. I'd feel my heart tug, because I knew I was home and home was one very impressive place.

I never cared about amenities. I've gotten into those clubs on occasion, and they are nice. But the crowd is not nearly as interesting as regular terminal folks. Nor is the food substantially better than anything you can get in the terminal. Plus, I like airport bars. Always interesting stories there. Nor were the minor inconveniences, like having to hike damn near a mile through the terminal at Hartsfield. To this day, I do not understand the design of Atlanta's airport. It seems designed to make sure you will either not make your flight on time, or spend an excess amount of time wasting in the terminal. But I took it in stride, even when they didn't have light laptops and WiFi. I love planes. I always wanted to know if I were on a Boeing or a McDonnell-Douglas. In any case, the airlines didn't need to offer me any incentives. I was sold as soon as I decided to travel.

I remember the days when you could meet your loved one at the gate, with flowers or a happy sign. I used to like seeing people reunite at the next gate over. The smiles. The laughs. I loved it myself. Coming back from a business trip, bounding off the plane and finding a bright pretty smile and the prospect of oncoming joy. Nothing like landing in a different city and seeing an old buddy or new love interest. They are there. You are there. Good times are sure to come.

These days I view air travel with dread.

I know that before I go, I won't be able to bring anything a man needs to have on him. Shaving cream. Razors. Right Guard. Listerine. Toenail clipper. All of these things will disappear into a netherworld should I decide to enter an airplane with them.

I'm the kind of guy who carries a Swiss Army knife. I have a small collection of them in fact. But sometimes I forget that these things are now the sorts of instruments that could bring down America. I'm told by security: Either lose the knife, or you can't fly. Some choice. A TSA agent is walking around with one of my Swiss Champ Hardwoods. No guy would ever throw that away.

They charge money for luggage. LUGGAGE!

You can't dress up. You have to look like you have interest whatsoever in making a good impression. So, to that end you have to make sure you don't have on cufflinks, a necklace, a watch, a ring, or anything that requires any difficulty getting into like a tuxedo. (Yes, i did travel in a tuxedo once!) God forbid if you're a woman. Consider the time some ladies take in making sure they look just right and presentable in public. And after the security check? They look like they've just woken up in some strange man's bed at 6 am and are trying to get home quickly so as to not get a "reputation." God forbid if you've lost weight and have pants a few sizes too big. I have no idea how hip hop fellas get through security. And what about people with foot oder? Jesus. Do I really want to smell someones feet in public? No. And it is absolutely sickening to see a little old grey haired lady stretching her arms out to be onced over with the metal detector or even patted down. Sickening. It's disgusting. The whole thing is a mess.

But do you want to know the worst thing? It's not the hassle of getting in and out of the goddamn airport. Nor is it the cramped seating, ridiculous surprise fees, endless delays, lost baggage, mystifying cancellations, horrible food, shitty customer service, stinky air, fruitless security checks, or the god awful disaster of being stuck in the plane on the tarmac for hours and hours. The worst thing is no longer being able to see loved ones exit the plane at the gate. Now, you'll find your family or friends in the baggage claim. However, you probably wont find your baggage there because its too expensive.

Do you feel safe? I don't feel safe. I feel annoyed. I feel hassled. I feel like I've lost something. Something wonderful has turned into a nightmare. I hate it. I can't stand it.

I'm done with it.

Originally posted to Triple-B in the Building on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 06:03 AM PST.

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