The Situation at American Airports

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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thanks for watching us tonight.

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As you may know, I have promised to periodically update you on the situation at American airports, and that's the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.

Last week, I flew from Newark to Fort Myers, Florida.  No problems at all.  Everybody at Continental Air was great.  Then I flew Delta from Sarasota to Atlanta, again a smooth trip.  One middle-aged woman working security at Sarasota was a bit power-mad, but that was it.  From Atlanta I flew to San Diego, perfect flight on Delta, no problems at security.

But on the way home to New York, I had to fly out of Los Angeles on United Airlines.  Uh-oh.  On Saturday morning, the lightest travel time of the week, there were huge lines at the United ticket counter.  Then at security, the foolishness began.  They put my light canvas bag through the security machine twice.  Then they used the wand on it.  Still not satisfied, they opened the bag, with my permission, and removed everything in it, including dirty clothes and toiletries.

The woman who did this kept up a running conversation with her security buddy and was in no hurry.  After about 10 minutes of her looking at my shaving cream container and stuff, she began wildly throwing folded shirts back into the bag.  Since I had to wear those shirts upon arrival in New York, I asked her to please place them in the bag the way she had taken them out.

She sneered.  I asked for her supervisor.  He sneered.  And then he asked me to take off my shoes, which I did.  They both then conferred, and I asked to talk with the Los Angeles policeman who was standing a few feet away.  They quickly zipped up my bag and asked me to leave.

But before I did, I wrote down their names.

The problem here is power.  Some security screeners are drunk with it.  Many of these people are ill educated, lack discretion, and common sense.  Want more?  An 86-year-old war hero was hassled at security in Phoenix because he was carrying his Congressional Medal of Honor.  A screener thought he could use it as a weapon.  Eighty-six.

And in New York City, a screener confiscated a box cutter from the passenger but failed to search him further.  He was reexamined when he changed planes in St. Louis.  Two more box cutters were found.  Screener was fired, the guy arrested.

The entire problem could be greatly diminished if the airlines would simply station an experienced employee at the security checkpoints.  United had no one I could speak with.  And if it weren't for the cop, I'd still be standing at LAX, shoeless, with my underwear scattered all over the place.

American air travelers deserve the best security possible, and that means not having fools working the ropes.

And if the airlines and the FAA are too cheap to hire intelligent people, then at least make sure a representative is on the scene to look out for the customer.

And that's the memo.

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