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Why Fly? TSA Bankrupting Airlines

Posted on the 23 January 2012 by Badmoneyblog @badmoneyblog
My wife and I do all we can to avoid air travel. Although it is arguably cheaper and faster to fly, we would much rather hit the road and drive the 14 hours to her parent’s house or the 8+ hours in heavy traffic to visit my family. We do this since the alternative is to buy a ticket, spend an extra $20 to $100 on bags, only to stand in line at airport security to take our turn at being molested, shouted at, and treated like a common criminal.  TSA admits errors in searches of elderly women's medical devices.
How did we allow our air industry to get to this point? Read on.
The start of modern-day government bailouts and Bad Money practices can be attributed to post 9-11-01 air travel. After unfortunate events, airlines started to struggle to pay bills as less people chose air travel. Eventually, the government stepped in to bailout airlines. At the time, for most consumers, this seemed like a good idea.
This was the best way to keep America from looking severely economically affected, preserve air travel, and keep millions of Americans employed. It was easy to see that the airlines were victimized by a group of terrorists, just like the rest of us. Eventually, the reality emerged that air travel was forever and irreversibly changed. Even thought we pumped billions of dollars into this then failing industry, airlines merged, and others failed.

Why fly?  TSA Bankrupting Airlines

TSA announces the end of Christmas

We all watched as new government entities emerged to once again fix all of our problems and protect us. Even with the newly minted
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and restructured United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we still saw the likes of the shoe bomber, printer cartridge mailings, and many others. This all happened while the TSA and DHS spent billions of our tax dollars to protect us. Is this the hard working TSA guy’s fault, who mans the security screening point, taking crap from every traveler, all for less than $30,000 a year? I doubt it. So are we safer? Arguably, no. We even saw increased ticket prices in the form of TSA fees to pay for what we were getting for free before.
This problem, like everything the government attempts to tackle, is this costs way more than is needed to do the same job through private means. Had the TSA been created to manage and enforce already existing airport security programs, this may have been a more effective use of taxpayer dollars. However, the past is the past and we have to look at the present and the future.

Why fly?  TSA Bankrupting Airlines

45 Minutes from here

Our last air travel occurred in early April 2011, after a death in the family. My wife and I found ourselves left with the only reasonable way to get home in time for the funeral, to fly. The flight into LaGuardia Airport in New York was relatively uneventful. However, getting a rental car was elusive, but that is another story for yet another blog.
We spent our week visiting family and headed back to the airport for our flight home. That is where the fun ensued. I decided to upgrade us to business class on
Airtran Airways since we had extra bags (that are supposed to be free with upgrades) and so we would have something to look forward to after the painful security procedures. At the counter, I was informed that one of my bags was 10 pounds overweight (even though one bag was way under weight) and I would have to pay $25 for “heavy bags.” Whatever. Then we moved to the gate area. 

Why fly?  TSA Bankrupting Airlines

Line ends here, but not really

As you can see below, we did not even make it close to the gate area before hitting a line. We arrived to the airport three hours early, only to find ourselves in a one hour security line. The wait was so long that TSA personnel were walking up and down the line yelling for people on soon departing flights to follow them to the front of the line. I mean really? Do we not have a better system than this? Am I really paying increased TSA security fees for this kind of treatment?
On one of these TSA agent trips up and down the gate line, I stopped the TSA agent and asked her if there is a reason for the unusually long lines. She says, “It is like this every day.” I find it unreasonable that this happens daily and the airlines are doing nothing to pressure the TSA to fix this ridiculous situation. Again, it was an hour wait just to get to the screening point. That wait did not even include the twenty minutes of waiting once in the screening area all while getting yelled at by an obviously overwhelmed TSA agent who hates his job.
The future of air travel is unknown. As the TSA continues to make air travel more intrusive and difficult, you can bet millions of Americans, just like me, will only fly when absolutely necessary. If the airlines and airports continue to allow this treatment towards paying customers, I am sure they will not find themselves in business much longer either.

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