Last week I wrote about the new TSA full body scan and pat down policies. Without recapping the entire post, in short I opined that many of the TSA policies seem to be more theatrical in nature rather than security related. I compared security measures used in the US to Israel, which has been more successful over a longer period of time. I finished by saying the US should not rely on security measures of dubious effectiveness and instead should focus money and efforts on behavioral profiling and more intense questioning.
In spite of my concerns about security protocols in the US, I think it is a horrible idea for the traveling public to overreact to them and even worse, to stage a boycott.
National Opt-Out Day is an online gassroots effort, the mission of which is to encourage people to boycott the TSA screening efforts on Wednesday, November 24th – the busiest travel day of the year for American travelers. What an incredibly bad idea.
Let’s focus on the goal of this group. The goal is to raise awareness of the perceived problem and ideally, force the TSA to alter its policies. Now, the THREAT of a boycott accomplishes this goal alone. It’s sort of like when a trade union threatens to strike. In most cases the threat is enough to affect change. If the National Opt-Out Day group is able to convince enough people to go through with this ridiculous boycott idea, travel disaster will ensue this week.
If the boycott goes forward, they will have succeeded in increasing the security line wait times for those travelers who actually want to reach their destination, rather than the rabble rousers who are selfishly trying to make a point. If people are unable to make their flights, and this will happen if there are enough disruptions, then it will be days before they will be able to be rescheduled. We are talking about the busiest travel weekend of the year- there won’t be later flights to catch since they will most likely all be in an oversold situation. Those boycotting and those unlucky enough to be in line behind them will be screwed, to use an incredibly inartful term.
Rather than pursue this counter productive strategy of yelling and screaming (does it ever work for your kids?) I agree with the famous airline industry blogger, Steven Frischling, who has been trying to engage in a thoughtful conversation on this topic since the beginning. He is right when he says that this is not the way to affect change; all it does is attract momentary attention and potentially ruin the holiday for hundreds if not thousands of people.
Luckily, I don’t think this will actually happen. Yes, perhaps a few people will participate in the boycott, but I don’t think many outside of the group’s leadership will actually follow through. Ultimately, people are more interested in getting to their destination, especially on Thanksgiving, than aiding a disorganized so-called user group make a point and get their 15 minutes on cable news.
If the organizers really want to help their fellow traveler, they will stop this boycott nonsense and instead engage the TSA in thoughtful and well articulated conversation. Instead, I fear, the only plans they will change this week will be those of people whose holiday has been ruined thanks to the boycott.