Last week, I visited Savannah, Georgia. While on this trip I went through airport security and observed many of the safety measures put in place to keep this country safe. All passengers were required to go through metal detectors. We were also required to take our shoes off. During the check at one of the airports, my bag set off an alarm.
After inspecting my bag, the TSA agent could find nothing wrong with it so I was let through. While I am not entirely certain, I suspect that the computer was having a glitch (raising concerns about the accuracy of the machines) or the metal wires on my notebook set the machine off. My shaving razor might have also set off the machine. I also saw what appeared to be a drug sniffing or bomb sniffing dog. I am not certain if that is standard procedure or if something unusual was going on at that particular airport.
I did not feel inconvenienced by these security measures up until the very end. A storm broke out at the very end of my journey, just as my plane landed on the runway. The plane was unable to take us to the airport terminal during the storm. However, from my personal observations, the storm had tapered down to little more than a drizzle and we still hadn’t moved. Yet, the passengers and crew received no explanation from the pilot as to why we still hadn’t moved.
A fellow passenger reminisced that passengers used to be allowed out on the tarmac. We were not given this option even though the rain had tapered off. I observed a few flashes of lightning in the distance which I presume was the reason we weren’t let off. We were given no explanation as to why we were no longer moving after thirty minutes.
The flight attendant, clearly becoming as frustrated as the passengers, asked the pilot why we had stopped. The pilot explained it was because of the weather. By this point, a general atmosphere of unease had settled onto the plane. No food was offered to the passengers, but water was offered. This situation proved dangerous to my travelling companion who has issues with low blood sugar. She had not eaten breakfast that morning and I could see her becoming increasingly disoriented and anxious. I myself was becoming increasingly agitated and nervous as were several other passengers. The rain was now coming in sporadic bursts and going long stretches where it stopped altogether.
We still didn’t move.
I saw no reason that we could not exit off of the tarmac or even board at the terminal. I suspect we could not go onto the tarmac for security reasons, but I do not see how this would make anyone safer.
My companion wondered why they didn’t offer us snacks if they were going to keep us stranded on the tarmac. There are several medical conditions where individuals can become very sick if they go too long without food. Indeed, government rules state that airlines must provide passengers with food after two hours. We were given water, but not food. Although, it hadn’t crossed the two hour point it still would have been nice if food had been offered. All total, we were stranded on the runway for an hour and fifteen minutes.
I do understand the reasoning behind many of the security protocols I saw. The metal detectors are necessary for weeding out any passengers who may be carrying weapons. Even removing shoes is a good idea as there was a case of a terrorist who put a bomb in his shoe. However, there was no reason I can think of as to why we were not allowed off on the tarmac. Not only was it inconvenient, it was also potentially dangerous for those with medical conditions.
In my view, there must be reform.