Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Have You Been A Selectee At Washington Reagan Lately And Been Through The Air Squirt Booth? Also, Midwest Is Still A Great Airline

Earlier this year on a Sunday night flight to Omaha on American from Raleigh, AA had all the usual sorts of problems at DFW and ORD, and American told me (again) that I was going to miss my connection on them. Thus I was involuntarily rerouted on AA Raleigh to Washington Reagan Airport and then Midwest Airlines DCA/OMA.

This gave me an opportunity to fly Midwest, which I had not done in about ten years. It was a great experience--on time, relaxed atmosphere, free drinks, hot cookies--and I only wish every airline had such comfortable seating and very nice people who actually seemed to care about me as a human being who had paid a lot of money to use their service. I would fly Midwest Airlines often if they still had direct service to and from RDU.

That was the upside. The negative was that transferring from AA at DCA to Midwest necessitated me leaving security from the AA terminal and walking the entire length of Washington National (Reagan) Airport to terminal A where Midwest departs.

Once there I had to check in with Midwest, get a new boarding pass, and then re-enter security. My Midwest boarding pass had a big red stripe on it, earmarking me as a selectee, because, as they explained nicely, I was a one way passenger on Midwest (my return was still booked on AA), and I was thus deemed a potential national threat, as all one way flyers indiscriminately are.

Of course I've been a selectee many times before. As someone who flies every week, the law of averages catches up from time to time. But I have not been a selectee at Washington National in a few years.

So I was very surprised to find that DCA now has a special booth which selectees must enter, one at the time. It then closes behind you and puffs and squirts air at you top to bottom, and then tests it all. You are required to leave your shoes on when entering this contraption. It's huge, about the size of an English phone box (the old red ones) and is full of all kinds of funhouse lights.

This delightful experience is BEFORE having to ALSO pass through the usual metal detector + X-ray machine (take your shoes off, remove all the stuff out of your pockets, laptop out, and so on). So obviously they don't quite trust the new booth yet, or else it tests for something missed by the usual routine.

I got through it all, but what a tortuously slow procedure it was--it took almost 20 minutes at this gizmo alone, thanks to a long line of
dazed and baffled selectees ahead of me and a TSA staff that couldn't quite get the rhythm of the machine down to a steady pace.

I hope I was not glimpsing the future of security at all our airports. If so, misery gets cranked up several notches in our collective futures.


Blogger john evans said...


Be careful 'The Air Squirt Booth' is really a 'Tardis'.

A product of Time Lord technology, a properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in Time and Space. The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior, which can blend in with its surroundings through the ship's chameleon circuit.

So now you know.

7/21/2006 11:03 AM  

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