War on Terror

New on Northwest: Complimentary Sleep Masks Now Mandatory

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The rules imposed by the Transportation Security Administration after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253—including the ban on blankets, bathroom trips, access to carry-on bags, and lap-borne personal possessions during the last hour of U.S.-bound flights—are now officially left to the pilot's discretion. But according to "an official at one American carrier" quoted by The New York Times, crews "usually do what is suggested." The story suggests that pilots will therefore continue to refrain from announcing landmarks, another TSA requirement/suggestion:

A pilot on another international carrier said that he and some of his colleagues thought the caution against pointing out landmarks made very little sense. "The passengers can look out the windows," he said.

Although the apparent rationale for the change (preventing terrorists from figuring out where they are) is pretty stupid, if the new practice meant fewer intrusions by inane announcements I would count it as one of the few good consequences of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's self-immolation. But I suspect that new security-oriented announcements will more than make up for the difference.

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  1. Do the new rules ban all lap-borne personal possessions? For my gender, that might arouse some of us.

  2. A pilot on another international carrier said that he and some of his colleagues thought the caution against pointing out landmarks made very little sense. “The passengers can look out the windows,” he said.

    Or you could just wait 45 minutes after the “put everything away” announcement. Or until your ears popped on the way down.

  3. What about the seat back video displays that display where the plane is?

    I think that would be more accurate than waiting for your ears to pop.

    1. That was turned off as well.

      The security directive that was “leaked” had the TSA requiring that in flight communications-phones, wifi, etc. be disabled, pilots refrain from announcing landmarks, and displays showing the location of the plane be disabled.

  4. “The passengers can look out the windows”

    Not any more.

  5. including the ban on blankets

    Without security blankets how can we have any security?

  6. So why don’t we just put everyone to sleep as soon as they sit down in their seat on the plane? Doctors can put you to sleep and wake you up again these days.

    Maybe hypnotists would be cheaper. And they can make you imagine that you have a security blanket.

  7. Mandatory valium might decrease the suck factor of today’s flying somewhat.

    Although they’d need to give it to you right when you get to the airport.

    1. I have it on good authority, with 10mg of Valium and a 10/660 Vicodin in you, very little matters. Groping, stripping, scanning, searching… who cares…

      You feel like a Fluffernutter that will never be eaten.

      1. You feel like a Fluffernutter that will never be eaten.

        Finally I can accurately describe opiates to the uninitiated!

    2. Last time I flew that’s what I did. It was a very enjoyable flight.

  8. So now they’re secret national landmarks.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the government will do a much better job running healthcare.

    1. Yeah, DHS announced they are going to put giant glasses and mustaches on Mt. Rushmore to disguise them.

      1. Wrong! I read the announcement and they are using sombreros.

  9. Reading stuff on the internet has made me too stupid to know if the two-e “complementary” in the headline is the right one.

    But it was worth it for “You feel like a Fluffernutter that will never be eaten.”

    1. Could go either way. If each sleep mask covers half your face, the spelling is correct.

  10. They ought to play Paul Harvey’s “the Rest of the Story” anecdotes throughout the last hour of flight. Then the bombers will be all like, “I know I’m supposed to blow up this plane, but I want to find out what happened to that guy who was almost killed by a threshing machine.”

    1. I guess this would be somewhat similar to NPR’s “driveway moments”, except more like a “self-immolation moment”?

  11. “The passengers can look out the windows,” he said.

    Not with their eyelids sewn shut! Hey! It’s for national security! If it makes us safe it’s worth it!

  12. Abdul, I re-LOL every time I re-read your comment!

  13. What’s next? Making passengers turn off their portable GPS devices?

    1. That’s been illegal for a long time now.

      1. If surreptitiously looking at portable GPS devices is outlawed, only outlaws will surreptitiously look at portable GPS devices.

      2. No shit? The last time I flew we used a hand held GPS to check the plane’s speed and track the flight.It worked just fine in a window seat as long as you had some southern exposure.

  14. Drudge has some TSA T&A up right now. If you’re into that kinda thing.

    1. Wow, even I’m not.

    2. Although… who knew Janet had such a hot bod under that pants-suit?

    3. Could you check Feministing for us, SF? I’d love to get their reaction to Drudge exploiting and objectifying women by posting that pic.

      1. It’s all “Woo-hoo! Gay sex on One Life To Live” over there.

        And I’m not sure Jezebel does anything at this point except talk about Jersey Shore.

    4. No, it’s T&P

  15. .” The story suggests that pilots will therefore continue to refrain from announcing landmarks, another TSA requirement/suggestion:

    This country’s institutions have gone full retard. Full fucking retard.

  16. I LIKE the announcements. Sometimes you are going over something interesting and don’t know it. However, I think the terrorists wouldn’t need the announcements – they would just be looking at the window.

    1. There’s also the fact that, since the plane is moving, the announcement that the plane is over something comes way too late to set off an explosive and drop the plane on that thing.

  17. About two years ago we were flying to West Palm Beach and the pilot announced that the shuttle could be seen out the left windows. Aside from some major trim issues that it generated for the pilot it was pretty cool (it actually looked like a long vapor trail going up instead of sideways, with a bright orange glow at the top, kind of like a cigarette)
    But could you imagine what Mutallab might have been able to do with a handheld Stinger missile from the window of the airliner. Thank God he wasn’t on that flight!
    On a more serious note, I was for a while five years ago on the ‘selectee’ list (no idea why). I haven’t flown since Christmas, so it’ll be interesting to see whether I’m back, since they are apparently lowering the threshold for inclusion on such things.

    1. Aside from some major trim issues that it generated for the pilot

      Huh? Why?

      1. Everybody rushed to the left side of the plane.

        Actually I doubt it made much difference–A320’s are pretty big.

  18. Looks like I’ll be selling fewer sleep masks from now on!

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