Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

November 7th, 2010
the Airport: Shortcuts getting cut short?

I use to pride myself on my tried and true shortcuts at airports – particularly at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). I could arrive and breeze through security, families with strollers, and avoid the newcomers to the art of flying.

Lately my shortcuts are getting cut short. Like CLEAR going under within a year of signing up, though there is word of a revival. I won’t hold my breath until it’s back at SFO or ever at LAX!

And I won’t be giving up all my secrets here in the hope that recent changes will be temporary. But finding myself in longer lines and under more scrutiny, I have more time to observe my fellow passengers and myself as we all deal with the inconsistent security process.

Just three weeks ago, flying through LAX, I was detained and “female” searched because I was wearing a ankle length free flowing skirt. Literally two pieces of clothing. A tee and a skirt, standing in my bare feet. This is after I cleared the scanner without a beep. I asked what the problem was. The answer was “loose clothing”. I was detained for 16 minutes while they waited for a female to come pat me down. I was furious. SFO had cleared me in the same skirt without a hitch on the way to Los Angeles. I tried to maintain my composure, but in reality I was seething, snarling and behaving much like my cat when she is backed into a corner.

After these experiences I scheme on my future ensemble to outwit the security who seem determined to make me stand aside for the understaffed “female” search. Last year my issue was several expensive bras I had invested in for support and shape. I set off every gate. Every time. I was so weary at one point I just decided to remove my bra entirely. Trust me, this is not a good look for me.

On this trip to L.A. I found myself behind a young man with a capacity filled KEEN backpack. It projected off his shoulders with a life of it’s own. He breezed by the first two security who review your “carry on”‘ for size. I was reprimanded for not stuffing my purse into my carry on deep enough. I caught up with him and studied his pack. I realized and remarked on the fact he did not remove his computer as we edged closer to the maw of the scanner. His KEEN bag was TSA checkpoint friendly, he just opned the flap and passed it through. I was made much more aware of this important feature because another passenger was panicking about his miss-placed computer.

Maybe, just maybe, this kid discovered a great short cut.

A backpack is not the first bag I would consider. I’m a maturing professional women who has not worn a backpack since the early eighties. Plus I have never thought busty women look good with huge straps embracing their chest. But times are changing and so is bag design.

So I looked into the specs. “The KEEN Airport Way features a special pocket for your laptop so it does not need to be removed to pass through security. Extra-cushy straps to take some of the bite out of long travel days, and a complete organizational pocketing system with padded pockets for your cell phone, camera or MP3 player.”

I think the EXTRA features are: no wheels to catch on the seats, plenty of capacity for an entire purse plus more and easy to toss up into the bulkhead. The straps sit nicely and its lightweight. The black olive/rust combination is nice.

Plus an easy short cut pocket for my steel wire bras. Now I just need a strapping young man to wear it for me.

11 thoughts on “the Airport: Shortcuts getting cut short?

  1. Nice article – thankfully I don’t often bring a laptop along but if I did I’d certainly invest in this groovy, easy-on, backpack. Now if only you’d slowly divest yourself of all those other “secrets” to getting through the airport mess – we’d all be happier travelers! cheers/j

  2. Funny article especially because I can relate to all those experiences. I don’t travel with my laptop just because of the hassle and afraid of what the people behind me will do if I hold up the line! I too don’t like the look of wearing a backpack but I think I’ll give it to my husband for X-mas and he can carry it!

  3. I loved “Clear” even if I left my traveling companions in the security line while I waited for them at the gate. I don’t understand why there isn’t another company doing the same thing.

    I take as little as possible with me to go through security. Just my larger traveling purse for my jewelry that I would never leave in my checked baggage. My bra doesn’t go off anymore – perhaps I have a new version “wire” that doesn’t get detected. I’ll let you know.

    What bothers me traveling these days is my little dog, which requires a paid ticket to travel with me. The pet carrier is considered my second carry on. My dog carrier should not be in that category.

    Aren’t our two carry-ons still free?!

  4. what a find! the perfect gift for the road warrior. It is already on my wishlist.
    I am a huge fan of KEEN….I have several pairs of their shoes which have survived many adventures!

  5. great rant piece Patti, i agree totally. i’ll buy one of those ugly travel backpacks when hello kitty makes a TSA approved version. ABC just did a story today about the airline pilots refusing to allow
    their members to subject themselves to the increased daily radiation of the new body scanners so they all have to have body pat downs. One guy was so upset he couldn’t go to work after being “violated” by a pervy pat down. The union suggests bringing a witness. Obviously we don’t want upset pilots flying their plane.

  6. You’re a wonderful writer, Patti! Love the sarcastic humor you injected throughout this piece! I have not yet been selected for a body search as I haven’t been on a plane since late summer, before this all started. I have been scanned with the little beeping wand, though. That was exciting.

  7. Backpacks are always the way to go! well backpacks and trains in my opinion. I’ve been spoiled living in the UK for the past three years. Trains are by far the better option for short distance traveling. Thanks to the auto industry’s lobbying over the years however trains aren’t usually a feasible option. so In the short term, I’d look into a special backpack but I think its time we start shouting for forms of travel that are more environmentally friendly as require less personal invasion!

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