OK, Nervous Flyers — With The Newest Security Rules, How Will We Handle Plane Landings?

Airforce firemen cover an airplane in foam fro...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Oy. Just my luck. I’ll be flying January 9, twice, domestically. Thanks to the new security rules, we’ll now have no access to the toilets, no standing up and nothing in your lap the entire final hour before landing.

A few challenges here arise:

1) What If I’m asleep and forgot to use the bathroom in time?

2) What if I really need to pee, defecate or throw up? Pregnant women, little kids, those with bladder infections or weak stomachs or the flu are now toast.

3) How will I soothe my frazzled nerves as the plane lands, often when it’s most buffeted by wind and statistically, most likely to suffer mishap? Without a book, Ipod, magazine, stuffed animal — anything to keep my sweaty fingers engaged and my mind distracted — it’s not fun.

4) Does the list of forbidden “personal belongings” include a rosary? No, I’m not kidding. My mother and I once endured a landing in Cuzco, aboard Faucett Air, that had all us so scared we were praying aloud and I bruised the hand of the young woman sitting beside me I gripped it so tightly.

I see a big jump in Prozac ‘scrips starting Monday…

18 thoughts on “OK, Nervous Flyers — With The Newest Security Rules, How Will We Handle Plane Landings?

  1. Jen Doll

    People next to me seem to love it when I grasp the armrests so tight that my hands turn white. Also, when I jump in my seat when the airplane suddenly shifts up and down. Actually, I wonder if this means people will be forced to talk to each other more…

  2. palavering

    Should our defense department worry more about how you’ll pee, or how we can minimize–not remove–terrorist attacks? I think I can assure you that should you (I hope never) ever be on a terrorist-held plane the last thing you’ll think about is taking a pee break.

    1. And what a fine solution this is! Let’s just hope the terrorists who would like to bring down an airplane don’t get the idea that maybe they can blow it up one hour and fifteen minutes before the scheduled landing. Sshh! Don’t tell them!

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    palevering, while that seems funny to you, it’s not. Human beings of all ages don’t schedule their bodily functions and if you are a nervous or anxious flyer, as many are, your bowels and stomach are often the body parts most affected.

    If security forces were really doing their job(s), this guy with a condom full of explosives and a syringe would never have made it onto that plane. I am furious that all the time and energy already wasted on pre-board clearance let this terrorist onto a plane at all.

    1. palavering

      My remarks, Caitlin, were not intended to be funny. Rules for passengers are, by their nature, written with a collective in mind. We do not live in a perfect world. Under the new regulations, I’m sure that if your bladder or bowels are about to be turned loose on a plane full of passengers and staff, you will be permitted to tend to mother nature in an appropriate manner. . . but keep extra underwear with you, just in case.

  4. veyepete

    I can agree with anyone who is furious about the current airline situation which is really the failing of the security establishment and the 99.9% innocent passengers must be punished for it. Shouldn’t someone be addressing the cause of all this US centered hate and then try to fix it from there? Why do they hate us? What can we do about it? Is anyone asking those questions? The should be.

  5. Caitlin Kelly

    veyepete, many people “hate” the U.S., for a wide variety of reasons. It always surprises me, as a Canadian 20 years in the States (ask any Canadian why they hate the U.S.) why this still comes as a shock. How about: economic policies, political behavior, Mideast policy, two wars at once? Depending on your worldview and religion and politics, the U.S. can easily be seen with considerable enmity. Even if they’re not trying to take down an airplane owned and operated by an American firm landing on U.S. soil, there are millions beyond the borders who dislike some aspect(s) of American life or values.

    What can be done about it? Tough question and one, no doubt, hundreds of think tank, academic and government types are grappling with.

  6. datajunkie

    In risk mitigation, it’s much easier to reduce the chance of something happening from 50% to 25% than from 0.05% to 0.025% because by the time you get to 0.05% you’ve already DONE all the easy stuff. With a low-probability/high-impact event like a terror attack via commercial plane, though, the psychological effects are such that we will take unreasonable actions to reduce an already negligible probability. Knowing that no risk can be completely eliminated, at what point does taking that next incremental step stop being worth it? I’m not just talking about Caitlin’s pee break here, this is also about everything from the cost of all those airport screeners and the lost opportunity cost of all those people standing in lines to the level of authority we’re willing to invest in others to search and seize our personal property and the lives of our military personnel.

    On a more practical note, I give the new regulations about 2 months before someone is forced to pee on themselves and sues everyone in sight.

  7. inmyhumbleopinion

    I hate to say it, but my belief is no amount of screening is going to deter someone who really has it in their head to blow up a plane. We have to look no further than the Christmas day incident. I honestly believe all the TSA nonsense is for show, and if they’re really serious about finding weapons or explosives, they should get those GE body scan machines to replace every metal detector in every airport in the world, and make every passenger go through it, not use it randomly. Now, would that stop someone who decided to put a bomb in a suitcase that got loaded into the underside of the plane? Probably not, unless the TSA plans to open every bag before it gets checked. Obviously, there is no way we’ll ever be 100% certain of a terror-free flight, just like no one ever thought in a million years people would fly two jumbo jets into the World Trade Center. What are you going to do? It’s the times we live in.

  8. Caitlin Kelly

    datajunkie, it’s no joke. Anyone who’s ever taken a long-haul flight — 12-15+ hours, as I have — knows you have to stay hydrated. Then, as a result, you need to evacuate the contents of your bladder. It’s a health issue.

    So is getting up to move around to mitigate the risk of thrombosis.

    imho, I agree with you that the current system isn’t working. Now the blame is devolving backward to the airport where this flight originated and their security.

    The nature of air travel is that thousands of flights are headed for the U.S. today and God only knows who, or what, is aboard them and what, if anything, was done to safeguard those planes and their crew and passengers.

  9. I don’t have a problem so much with the bathroom rules, unless I’m going to be sick on the plane. I rarely get airsick, but sometimes it just happens, depending on the amount of turbulence, time in the air and what they served on the plane.

    I can be a bit of a skittish flyer, even though I do fly a lot these days. My iPod usually calms me down, so being without this for the last hour of the flight (usually the one that feels longest since you just want to get there already), is going to be really difficult.

  10. Caitlin Kelly

    Rachel, you get it. That final hour, especially if you’re nervous, ill, tired, whatever, is hard. I really dread the idea of not having anything for an entire hour when I am likely to be most anxious.

  11. libtree09

    I have been through some extensive security measures.

    Once during a bomb scare in France we were all taken off the plane, the luggage removed where upon every passenger had to present the luggage for a search. All liquids were removed and examined, toothpaste tubes squirted out, fountain pens emptied of ink, every piece of clothing looked over and electronics and cameras X-rayed, the luggage itself searched for secret compartments. We were then patted down, sniffed by dogs and then put in a room to await the completion of the search of our 747. The process took hours and hours. In the end we were secure and no bomb was found.

    Consider how many flights there are during the Christmas holiday. There are one million people on the watch list. No security is perfect just ask the Secret Service who are charged with protecting one person.

    If we engage in a war on terror we cannot reasonably say there will be no casualties at home. Our world is much smaller than it was in WW2 and attacks are going to occur. Countries in Europe and Asia already know this after decades of dealing with terrorism. Only in America do we expect perfection and are quick to condemn those who can’t achieve it. If there is in fact incompetence as Duprey seems to think, comparing this to New Orleans debacle, we will know soon enough.

    Sitting in our seats for the last hour is a silly solution perhaps locked seat belts are next but a solution is demanded by the shocked public who expect instant response before examination.

    Once again the terrorists win because one man will force us to be afraid, to increase inconvenience and to spent more millions on finding that one in a million lunatic.

    Interestingly our President decided not to panic, not to satisfy these criminal’s desire for attention.

    After WW2 we decided to involve ourselves in the affairs of the world, to protect our national interest no matter where that might be. We placed nearly 300 military bases around the world and engaged in a number of small wars that killed many good citizens and spent trillions from our treasury all in the name of safety and security.

    We made lots of enemies and now they are among us, welcome to the war.

    1. gypsysister

      libtree, you’ve got it. Wherever you are in the world, you’re never 100% safe. We can live out lives alert, but we should not live in paranoia. Nobody likes to admit it, but we can never predict danger to ourselves any more than we can predict death. Those who place themselves in harm’s way – police officers, soldiers, and violent criminals – have a greater chance of dying than the rest of us, but that’s about it.

      No real moral here. Just enjoy life to the fullest and do what you can with the unenjoyable parts.

  12. Caitlin Kelly

    libtree, thanks for weighing in.

    I can’t picture how anyone, anywhere, will be able to prevent someone utterly determined to wreak such havoc. Certainly in a world with such enormous political, religious and economic differences, someone, somewhere, will have a powerful grievance and someone else happy to fund and aid them in their determination to do harm to thousands.

  13. thicky

    Perfect security is impossible. The world is a dangerous place and we all have to accept it or else live alone in an antiseptic cocoon.

    More interesting is that the chemical explosive taped to the attempted bomber’s leg was also used in an attack in Saudi Arabia in August. The difference was that the Saudi attacker successfully detonated his bomb(killing himself but missing his target), and instead of taping the explosives to his leg he had inserted the explosives in his rectum.

    I just hope that when the overly frightened and terrorized people of the world insist on full body cavity searches at all airports that I am in line behind an attractive woman.

  14. cliveshome

    ITS OKAY: LET THEM ANNOY YOU? BUT STILL GET YOU TO YOUR DESTINATION SAFE. We are glad that thew latest terrorist plot failed, for too many would have perished., I am for the long checks and protective measures; you should too. if at all you seek to know more: http://cliveshome.blogspot.com here you will find a word on the extremists actions at the youth of our world.

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