I Want To Fly FedEx And take my iPod with me

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On Tuesday
afternoon my iPod arrived. Small, like a calculator (but a bit heavier),
black in front with a shiny silver backside. It's controlled by
a nifty low profile wheel with some buttons, and sports a bright
backlit display, and 30 gigabytes of capacity that can probably
hold my entire CD collection. Hey, I'm a bit late for the iPod revolution,
but here I am. Way to go, Apple! I have an upcoming long overnight
flight to Argentina, and I'm really looking forward to taking this
sleek marvel of engineering, along with the Bose noise-cancelling
headphones I bought last year (oh yes, they work!) on my trip in

On Thursday
I woke up and turned on the news. Apparently terrorists were prevented
at almost the last minute from blowing up planes en route from Britain
to the US. Their plan was to compose explosives during the flight
with materials brought on board in the carry-on luggage. And a battery
would be used as the detonator.

I groaned.
Sure enough, later in the morning I read a news story listing the
items restricted on all flights from Britain, including anything
with a battery, and it even specifically lists the iPod. No doubt
these restrictions will expand to all flights in the future. Bye
bye iPod. And bye bye laptop. Heck, it's even bye bye watch! Stewardess,
can you please tell me what time it is?

Perhaps at
some point in the future, we will make the transition to all nude
air travel. This may be the only sure way to prevent someone from
bringing something dangerous on a flight. Of course, there
is another alternative. Well, there are two other alternatives,
one being for the US government to stop meddling everywhere in the
world, but the one I'm thinking of is to make airlines responsible
for their own security.

If Fedex flew
passenger flights, would you be their customer? Suppose prior to
becoming a customer of Fedex, you had to provide some personal (and
verifiable) information about yourself, in return for which, you
would not be hassled when boarding the plane. Would you do it? Suppose
Fedex personnel always took a little closer look at you than the
granny in front of you. Would you consider that unfair? Yet the
line would still move faster than the one managed by the TSA where
everybody, no matter how unlikely a candidate to be a terrorist,
gets a good going-over. Suppose Fedex charged 10% more for their
tickets, but constantly updated their threat detection technology?
And imagine how courteous the personnel would be. If you did
have a problem, you could ask for a supervisor. Ever try asking
someone who works for the TSA if you can speak with their supervisor?

If Fedex flew
its own passenger flights, and a terrorist infiltrated its security
and crashed a plane, it’s unlikely that anyone would fly Fedex ever
again. The company would probably announce bankruptcy in a few days.
Knowing this, they would take very special care to make sure this
doesn't happen. By contrast, all of the airlines who lost planes
on 9/11 are still in business. To the best of my knowledge, not
one airline employee was even fired in the aftermath of that calamity.

The Post Office
has lost a lot of my mail over the years. But Fedex has never lost
a package I've sent. Never. I think they would take just as much
care not to lose a plane I was on with a load of customers on board.

12, 2006

Foye [send him mail] is
an independent software developer living in Austin, Texas.

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