Letters to the Airlines

Angry Airplane

Angry Airplane

In my continuing Don Quixote-style quest against the dysfunctional, authoritarian, over-reaching and civil liberties-free government agency sadly mis-named the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), I have written some letters.  No, I didn’t write to my congressman.  No, I didn’t write to either of my senators.  I also didn’t write to the head of the TSA, nor to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  I also didn’t write to the President (I figured he was a litle busy trying not to get rolled by the minority Republican Party).  I wrote to the real power behind the transportation industry in this Country.

I wrote letters to the airlines.

My thought was that if any organization could put some pressure on the TSA to clean up their act, it would be the major corporations who are directly affected.  Those corporations start with the airline companies.  A recent independent survey on the airline industry included this choice comment from a respondent: “Like a cattle car, except the cows are mercifully slaughtered at trip’s end.”  If I were a senior executive at any one of the airline companies, I’d not be happy about this.

So, I decided to do my part and create just a bit more of a headache for airline CEOs.  Below, reproduced in glorious living color, is my letter to the airlines.

To [ Airlines CEOs ]

This letter concerns my reactions to the recent change to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) airport terminal security procedures of “enhanced pat downs” and the RapiScan scanners.

For the past three years I have made on average one round trip flight per month for business using several different airlines including United, Southwest, Delta, and Jet Blue.  Over these past three years I have become increasingly dismayed at the unprofessional and even abusive conduct of TSA agents (TSOs) in the airports I frequent.  As the norm, I have observed that TSOs treat every person passing through the inspection line as a criminal until proven innocent, not entitled to civil liberties or even basic courtesies.  On my most recent trip I reached my limit of tolerance when I was scanned in one of the new “RapiScan” machines, then received an “enhanced pat down,” while passing through Dulles airport.  Together with the abusive, unprofessional personal behavior of the TSOs working the inspection line, this “inspection” was one of the most humiliating experiences I have ever suffered through.

The TSA’s current inspection policies, combined with the typically abusive behavior by TSOs I’ve experienced as the norm, are more than I’m willing to tolerate for the dubious “privilege” of being stuffed into a too-small airline seat for hours on end.

Since returning from my last trip, I have arranged with my firm to change my contract assignment to one that will not require me to fly.  With luck, I will not have any reason to fly for the next several months or even longer.  My reason for this request, as I explained to my firm, is that I am no longer willing to tolerate the TSA “enhanced pat downs,” that go way above my comfort level for how strangers may touch me.  I also seriously object to the use of the RapiScan machines, knowing that total strangers are viewing nude photos of me with no assurance that my photos will not be recorded and reused without my knowledge or permission.

I wish to inform you that I do not intend to willingly use any commercial airliner for business or personal travel until the present TSA policies are discontinued, and until TSOs are held accountable for their conduct.  I respectfully call on your company to demand drastic immediate changes by the TSA on behalf of your customers.  I intend to monitor which airlines are most visible in calling for accountability of TSOs, and calling for the TSA to operate within with the established norms of American civil liberties and basic human decency.  If and when I have to start flying again, I intend to fly the airline(s) that chose to support their customers over the TSA.

Signed,

So far I’ve only mailed it to the CEOs of four airlines I’ve routinely flown these past three years.  I plan on sending it to more as I find time to research their snail mail addresses, I’m also thinking about sending a similar letter to the CEOs of the major hotel chains I have frequent-stayer accounts with.  But, that’s for another day.  Below, I’ve included the snail mail and e-mail addresses of the four airlines I’ve already written to.  I encourage all readers to make the day a little brighter for airline CEOs by sharing your thoughts on the TSA.  After all, if an airline CEO ever feels too stressed, they can always hope a free flight to Tahiti for a few day’s rest sans groping.

 

————————————

Jeffery A. Smisek
President and Chief Executive Officer
United Continental Holdings, Inc.

United Airlines

PO Box 66100
Chicago, IL 60666
HQ Phone: +1 847 700-4000
E-mail contact form

————————————

Richard Anderson
Chief Executive Officer
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
P.O. Box 20706
Atlanta, Georgia 30320-6001
HQ Phone: +1 404 715-2600
E-mail contact form

————————————

Dianne Addington
Chief Executive Officer
Southwest Airlines main offices
2702 Love Field Dr
Dallas, TX 75235
(214) 792-5534?
(214) 792-4000?
HQ Phone: +1 214 792-4000
E-mail contact form

————————————

 

David Neeleman
Founder and CEO
Name: Jetblue Airways, Corporate Office
Floral Park, NY 11001
HQ Phone: +1 718 256-7900
E-mail contact form

 

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