Airport screening and transportation safety in the United State of America is a not so funny joke four plus years after 9/11. Not that this should come as any surprise to anyone who's flown but today's announcement of changes in screening procedures seemed like a good time to relay this story from earlier this week.
I showed up at Logan Airport at 7:30 this past Tuesday morning to check in for an American Flight to Dallas. Now, seeing what transpired at Logan on 9/11, I've always been a little hopeful that people are paying a touch more attention than they are in say, Omaha, but no.
"You already checked in and checked two bags," the agent told me.
But I hadn't done either.
She kept digging.
"Someone else checked in under this reservation." She was stymied.
Turns out there was a Toby Boice that was headed to Dallas that morning on an earlier flight. An American agent at the ticket counter had checked in him under my reservation - my agent and I moved down the line and spoke with her.
My agent came up with a solution. "If you check your bag, I'll add it to this record and re-issue a boarding pass."
"Okay, but where's Toby?" I asked. Turns out Toby was given a boarding pass in my name, made it through TSA and onto the 7:30 flight with a boarding pass for an 8:30 flight in someone else's name. (His bags, however, were safely in my name on my flight.)
My agent checked my bag and gave me a boarding pass, not the least concerned. I had one more question.
"Did you notice that I am on the no-fly list?" Right after the Kerry Campaign ended, I magically ended up on a special list. I can only check in with an agent, they have to call a supervisor and get special clearance for me to get on any plane.
"hmm, isn't that funny, next in line please."
I spoke to the folks at TSA, I spoke to the folks at the gate, I spoke to the guy next to me at screening, some surprise but no concern.
Finally, at the gate I was paged. It was my agent.
"TSA needs your birthday to let you on the plane." I was used to this, it's happened for over a year. So I gave it to her, day, month, year.
I wonder if Toby and I share a birthday too.