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Friday, Mar 27, 2015

Induced trances, diapers and flying’s future

BY SUE QUIGLEY International Perspective

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A few weeks back, I wrote about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) changing its “prohibited list” to allow passengers to bring onboard small pocketknives.

Allegedly, it was to enable transportation Security officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher-threat items such as explosives.

Ho hum.

Seems the TSA has gladly had a change of heart – because on June 5 they abandoned that plan yielding, it would seem, to intense criticism from airlines, unions and Congress.

Was it pressure from the flight attendants’ union that made them back down, or maybe it was because of the recent Boston Marathon bombings.

Whatever the reason, I hope it remains a permanent decision.

It doesn't matter whether it’s about knives, shoes or underwear, it’s clear we need to rethink the whole process of air travel and the security and safety of all who travel or work in the industry.

In the early days, travel was at a more leisurely pace. Crossing the Atlantic by ship would take the equivalent of days rather than hours, for example. Now it is all about speed, and airlines are demanding planes be built from lighter materials to reduce fuel costs.

Hurrah for them saving money to fill their coffers, but the question of the ordinary traveler’s safety would still be present. Pilots and navigation crew are nice and safe behind their reinforced doors, but what about the cabin crew and innocent passengers?

If you can put aside how quickly one can get from A to B, air travel should be more about health, intelligence, automation … and diapers. The future of flying is going to depend on building passenger-capacity drone planes to shunt millions of air travelers around the world. A globally run airline.

At the moment, we are resigned to the fact that an aircraft cannot be totally safe or weapon-free. A paper clip, a sheet of paper or that plastic knife that comes with your meal for example can become a deadly weapon in a terrorist’s hand. A ballpoint pen or a broken CD can become lethal weapons.

What has to be done is to remove the opportunity for some looney to use or fashion such weapons once in the aircraft.

Let me introduce the future of air travel and the “Fly Naked” program.

When passengers arrive at airport check-in, they will be handed a paper gown much like you would see patients wearing in hospitals or those forensic scientists at the site of a murder scene. Of course, the gowns would be suitably modest and easy to tie at the back.

Next, and depending on the length of your flight, passengers would also receive a complimentary diaper.

Personal effects and carry-on baggage would be taken away, screened and placed in the cargo belly. Passengers are then free to board the aircraft and take their designated seats.

With their clothes gone and their personal effects diverted to the belly, this would totally eliminate the possibility of hidden weapons in the cabin.

One seated on the aircraft, and the normal check safety belt walkthrough completed, the cabin would be flooded with a sedative via the air-conditioning system.

Voila. The passengers are instantly asleep only to be revived with a “wake-up” dose once they reach destination. Upon disembarkation, they receive their clothes and personal effects and go their merry way.

No more carts to push up and down the aisle. No more drunken, unruly and argumentative passengers to deal with.

This has got to be the ultimate solution to avoid terrorism on planes.

Beam me up Scotty.

Sue Quigley is a former editor of Hernando Today and lives in Spring Hill. She can be contacted at

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