Flying without Liquids

I took my first flight in the no carry-on liquid era. It is clear to me that the airlines and the terminal operators have not yet learned how to adjust on the fly to changing regulations. When I arrived at Dulles for my flight, the check-in line for United was badly backed up. I waited in line for awhile until a United employee came, sorted out the line, and directed us to a variety of shorter correct lines. Apparently one line got badly backed up, and that prevented people from seeing that the other lines were not backed up.

Much of this congestion seemed to be related to people checking luggage that they would not normally check. I checked my bag, since I prefer to extra room when flying a coast to coast. This allowed me to pack toothpaste and shampoo. For my next flight to Chicago I will have to choose between bringing those items or carrying my overnight bag abroad.

There seemed to be an inconsistency in the policies. You are not allowed to carry liquids through security, but you can purchase then in the terminal. I had coffee, while I waited. I did not finish it in time, and I had to throw it away. You cannot carry the coffee on the plane, but there is no check of your carry on luggage at the gate. I could have carried on a bottle of water in my briefcase without anyone noticing.

Both government bureaucracies and large customer service businesses work best with standard procedures that can be slowly refined over time. Neither is good at adapting quickly to new situations, which does not bode well for comfortable air travel in the future.

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