Looking out our hotel window at the Boulder Flatirons this morning.
MD and I flew out of Denver late this morning for Santa Barbara. We debated whether to grab a bite at the hotel before we left or to get on the road, get to the airport a little early, and grab some coffee and a quickie breakfast there. We opted for the latter and headed out early. We left even earlier than we normally have left because there was still some snow on the roads–at least in Boulder–and we wanted to make sure we got to the Denver airport in plenty of time.
We got on the road and discovered that since we had moved from Boulder a new toll road had been built running between a little town just east of Boulder and the airport. We decided to take it and made it to the airport even earlier than planned. We ditched the rental car and took the shuttle to the terminal. We got in, checked our bags, and made our way to security.
For those of you who have never been there, the Denver airport is enormous and is not the easiest airport to deal with. You check your bags at the curb or at the inside check-in, then take an escalator down a floor to security. You go through security, then head down another escalator to the train. You wait for a train, which takes you to one of three concourses where you actually board the plane.
When we lived in Boulder we flew a lot and went into and out of the Denver airport many, many times. It typically took us a few minutes to get through security, then another 10 minutes or so to wait for the train and end up at our concourse. Of course, that was all pre 9-11.
When we got there today, there was a huge mob at security wending its way through the serpentine lines waiting to go through the metal detectors. It took is forever to make it through, and by the time we did, took the train, and got to our concourse, our flight was starting to board (no coffee and breakfast for us), and our seats together had been given away. (This after we had left way early and had even gained time thanks to the new toll road.) Fortunately, out of kindness, the United agent found a person traveling alone and arranged a swap so that MD and I could sit together. Which we did in the very last row of the plane across from the door to the only restroom. You can imagine how peaceful our flight was.
The whole experience got me to thinking. All this security rigamarole is a lot like shutting the barn door after the horse is out. It ain’t pre 9-11 anymore. All the rules have changed. Pre 9-11 the rule was that if you were on a plane that was hijacked, you were to remain calm and not do anything that might upset the hijackers. Other than the guys on United 93 who had found out what happened to the other three planes and took action, the rest of the people sat there as the terrorists flew the planes into the buildings. No one is going to do that again.
I seriously doubt that any plane could be hijacked by a bunch of people with box cutters. They would be swarmed and probably beaten half to death (or fully to death) by the passengers and any air marshals that might be on the plane. The rules have changed, but the security process is still pre 9-11, but now on steroids.
I thought about all the man hours I saw wasted by people snaking back and forth in the security line in Denver and tried to imagine what it would calculate to over the course of a day. Just the difference in the time spent in security lines now compared to pre 9-11 multiplied times the number of people flying all over the country computes to a monumentally huge loss of productivity. Multiply this number times the average hourly wage of all these people and you get an eye popping number that defies imagination. (When I did my back of the envelop calculation based on the number of people I guesstimated were there I came up with about $80,000,000 for Denver alone) That is the cost saddled on us by the terrorists. Whether they ever strike again, they have won big time because we as a nation pay that price.
And that price doesn’t even include the vast army of TSA agents who all draw salaries. The entire TSA was formed in response to 9-11, so whatever its budget is, add that to the astronomical price we pay in lost productivity. And then we can’t forget the officious idiots who roam around the arrival areas of the airport telling people to move their cars. Remember in the old days how you could pull up to the airport, grab a spot along the curb, and wait for someone to arrive? No longer. Now there are these Bozos who walk along keeping all the cars moving unless they’re actively loading passengers. Why? So that these cars can’t blow up the airport? Are they crazy?
If you were a terrorist bent on blowing up an airport by putting a bomb in your car, pulling up to the curb, and blowing the airport and yourself to smithereens, would you be put off by these security dorks? Of course not. You would drive by and set the bomb off with the car moving. As I see it the only reason these rentacops exist is to hassle people and make a trip to the airport more stressful than it already is.
And that is another expense. The last time I had to pick someone up at the Reno airport I had to circle three times before my party came out and I could park and load. Multiply all the gasoline burned by all the cars circling airports all across the country. Cars that pre 9-11 would have been parked with engines off.
The hassle and the expense are immense. And in my opinion unnecessary. No wonder so many more people are driving and the airlines are in trouble. And it all because of the terrorist threat and the war on terror. We may have run them into the hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they have won the war.
Arriving at the dinky airport in warm, sunny Santa Barbara after all the hassles.
The terrorists have won