punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

My dystopian fear of flying

I hate the TSA. I don't want to be blown up on a plane, but the security theater is just ridiculous. In my head, I sometimes play a small 16mm film where a pure white background, similar to THX-1138, is presented.

In the future..

[calming flute music plays]

United States Department of Edutainment presents:
FASCO Films Department: (c) 2015

Jill is 23. She is going to fly from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles to see her grandmother, whom she hasn't seen since she was 11.

A few months ago, Jill had to go to her state-approved physician to apply for a Right to Fly exam (a FASCO class C exam). She had to submit blood tests and take a basic psychological profile exam (30 minutes of 500 questions). Her doctor passed her, and she was able to apply to the Federal Air Safety Control Office for a FASCO 101 compliance. In her paperwork, she had to detail her arrival and departure time, purpose of visit, a list of people she would see on her visit, a list of her last 4 previous addresses, and a list of all places she has visited for more than 1 hour 20 miles or more away from home. In addition, she has to provide the names and contact information of two witnesses who can vouch for her status as a citizen where one of them has to already have FASCO clearance within the last 5 years. The entire form has to then be notarized, submitted with some DNA samples, a fingerprint, and a current photo. Upon completion, Jill submits the entire set of forms, and waits 4-6 weeks.

Jill's boss, Mr. Sterner, flys frequently. He only has to submit a FASCO 201 when he wants to fly. He has to reapply for his FASCO 201 status every five years, but it only takes 2 weeks to get his 201 authorization back. After all, Mr. Sterner is a very important man!

Six weeks later, Jill gets her authorization which is good only for the flight she applied for. Should the flight plans change, she will have to reapply, but only use a FASCO 103 to reassign her destination time and dates, and that process takes only 1-2 weeks, or just a few hours if she drops by a FASCO office in person. Her authorization packet contains a copy of her submitted paperwork and her authorization, printed in a small booklet with color shifting ink and holograms to prevent forgeries.

Just before she left, Jill put her travel needs into a box and had it shipped to her destination using her favorite commercial carrier. She went to the airport wearing only comfortable casual clothes, her identification, and a small bag with some books to read, and a disposable one-day use cash card with a balance of all the money she should need for the day. Jill has read her homework, and is prepared to fly into safety!

She takes a cab to the airport arrival station. It's a large building in front of a securely guarded airport. As she passes by the throngs of people saying goodbye to loved ones, she makes sure she has her papers and smiles in anticipation of her safe and comfortable flight.

The airplane departure area is far away from the actual airport. Jill can hear the planes, but not see them yet. Be patient, Jill, we wouldn't want to spoil the surprise! She steps up to the line to her ticket booth. Gone are the lines to various carriers, they already know you're coming! She merely separates into lines for those who had FASCO Class 1, like herself, as well as Class 2, for people like her boss, and Class 3 for government or emergency workers.

When she gets to the counter, a uniformed woman takes her booklet, and compares it to her ID. She asks for a fingerprint scan. Uh oh! There's a problem. Jill can't remember what finger she used! But the lady helps her out, and within minutes, she's approved to go into the disrobing chamber. The lady gives her a neck tag, stamps Jill's forehead, and sends her on her way past the many guards down a hallway.

Jill knows what to expect. Helpful pictograph signs show her what she will be doing when she gets to the disrobing room. At the end of the hallway, she steps into a free closet, and strips down naked. Don't forget those earrings and hair bands, Jill! Jill remembered that the safety of her personal belongings could never be guaranteed, so she came wearing nothing she couldn't afford to lose. She puts her belongings in a plastic bag, and seals it nice and tight. She sees herself in the mirror. Oh my, Jill. We have been gaining a little weight, haven't we? Better lay off those desserts at the buffet when you're in Los Angeles, Jill!

Then she puts her tag around her neck, and inspects the red stamp on her forehead. It identifies that she's been passed by Desk 34 in Newark. The New Jersey seal of safety approval shines like a beacon of safety, letting Jill relax and know she's in capable hands. It helps in a crowd of people to identify she's authorized to be a passenger. It does not rub off until she will later wipe it off with a mild alcoholic solution. But for now, it is a reassuring red mark that she has safe and will be taken care of.

She takes the sticker off her sealed bag, and puts it in the designated area in her booklet. This will assure her that she can be identified with her belongings upon her arrival. Looking in the shelf, she grabs an "airplane gown," a form-fitting elastic jumpsuit similar to the snuggly pajamas she wore as a little girl. As the soft microfiber adheres to her skin, she admires her figure with small pale FASCO logos on them. She then grabs a set of disposable airline slippers and puts them on.

Now she's ready to fly!

[swell of orchestra music]

Taking her bag, she submits it to a guard near a line of people, waiting to go onto the security conveyor system. Like the sidewalks of tomorrow, they roll passengers past a series of safety rays, which scan for bomb and drug residue, as well as X-ray for any unauthorized implants of concealed cargo someone might carry. Good thing you didn't eat this morning, because they could tell you what's making you a little pudgy, Jill!

At the end of the line, you are told to go through one of several gates by a random number assigned to your ID tag. Randomly, you might be selected for extra deep scanning. Jill has not been selected, and from the sounds of the young well-developed teen ahead of her who was, it doesn't sound pleasant! Don't worry, Jill. That young girl is very safe thanks to a series of trained men who will keep her private and snug behind sealed doors. The deep scanning is to make sure that nobody is an enemy agent in league with a bad FASCO employee. While no enemy FASCO agent has ever been reported, it's thanks in part to random deep scanning and time-trusted series of rapid questions. After a few minutes with those boys, that girl would tell them anything they need to know! Including her boyfriend's secret nickname! And thanks to overhead safety laws used by US Customs, nobody can use the US Constitution against the rest of America. So don't worry, Jill. That girl is as safe as you are!

Once sorted and scanned, Jill is put on a bus, which will take her to the actual airport. Jill is excited, because she will get to be on a real airplane! While she has trouble containing her glee, Jill remembers that no talking is allowed on the bus with other passengers. After all, that driver has to concentrate on the road with almost no windows on the bus!

Once a tangled mess of confused people, airports are now modern areas of traffic efficiency! As the bus unloads its stream of warm and clean passengers, Jill is only minutes away from her airplane gate! In the olden days, this would take hours, and she would be led astray with the confusion of hallways, excess traffic, and merchants pestering here. But now as she follows the crowds to their scanning points, uniformed guards will scan her tags, and helpfully tell her where to go.

A turn to the left [beep]
A turn to the right [beep]
Down that hall [beep]
And then...

[music swells]

The airplane!

[chorus of angels]

Jill sits in the waiting area. The pilots and mechanics want to make sure that the airplane is juuust right for Jill's visit to her grandmother. Hours seem like minutes until she is escorted down a long hallway to the airplane itself.

Soothing music plays as Jill is seated. Everything has been taken care of for her. And while the seats seem awfully small, it won't matter once they get to flying. Jill is so excited, she hopes she can stay awake for the takeoff!

The plane is quickly filled and humming with the anticipation of a good flight. The captain states the flight information and remind people to lie back and relax as he rolls the airplane down the runway and the armed attendants put on their masks. Jill does not even hear the gentle hiss of the gas as it fills the cabin with its flowery smell. Just think Jill, the plane needs perfume just like you do! She knows that she's not going to have a reaction to the sleep gas because she had an exam from her physician! As she drifts to sleep, she gets the sensation of flying with a small smile on her lips...

... and landing! Jill awakens slowly. To Jill, only minutes have passed, but her muscles are stiff. Weather complication during a layover added an hour or two to their arrival time, but their tags have already been updated for them due to the modern computer system that keeps track of all its little passengers. The attendants give Jill some bottled water with a mild stimulant to help wear off the effects of the sleep gas. They are just like mom, always making her sleepyheads are awake!

When they get to the gate, Jill is filed off the plane and scanned. Her legs are stiff and sore, but quickly flow with new blood as she awaits her turn to be sorted and moved to a bus that will take her to the airport arrival station in Los Angeles. Her heart skips a beat when she sees the older airport towers of the retired LAX Museum of Flight. She can't believe she's really here!

Jill stands patiently in line, awaiting her clothing. It seems to take forever! They match her booklet and tag, find her sealed bag, and send her to a disrobing room to change into her normal clothing. She keeps the disposable slippers as a souvenir of her grand journey.

Is that Grandma outside, behind the two fences and barbed wire? It might just be...

[grand music plays and Jill and grandma hug one another]

Grandma! Oh, how she's missed her little girl! And that long nap has made Jill look refreshed and radiant! The stamp on her forehead glistens in the California sun as they go to Grandmas house and talk about Jill's exciting day...

On an airplane!

[music swells, credits play]
Tags: airplane, airports, future, tsa
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