Ensure your seatbelt is fastened

I know it is a common complaint of mine, a regular sort of whining if you prefer, about air travel.
So here I go again, a warning if you wish to turn the page.
On this particular trip there was the usual cattle-herding, the cramped quarters, my knees up against the seat in front of me, the seat in front of me fully reclined so I couldn’t open my table tray, the woman next to me spilling into my seat; all the regular companions of air travel.
But this time, WestJet announced that the washroom at the front of the aircraft was intended for those in Plus Seating which made me think of the Titanic and the lifeboats reserved for first class passengers only, while those in “steerage” were allowed to go down with the ship, the reminder we are never equal, even when stripped down to life and death situations.
I have to tell you that my egalitarian soul ached to the point of cracking open.
“WestJet, have you lost your mind?” I considered shouting.
I thought WestJet was the airline of ordinary people, but that hypothesis is on shaky ground.
Before I boarded the sardine can, I was met with an upsetting experience with an individual in security, a large woman who could have crushed me to pulp with one hand.
And it got me wondering about the training these screeners receive before being turned loose on the traveling public.
Are they taught to shout at travelers, to never make eye contact, to behave as though we live in a police state?
As I lined up to empty my pockets and remove three-quarters of my clothing and to unpack my backpack I was taken aside and had my backpack thoroughly searched.
I had to remove my laptop and all the paraphernalia that I haul with me. No problem.
My hands were swabbed with some sort of device that let them know if I had an evil plan to take over the world.
I was told to put my laptop away and all the other debris and to carry on. I did.
This is where I made my mistake.
I didn’t remove my laptop for a second screening. How stupid am I?
I could have implemented some terrorist activity as I moved the 10 feet from one screener to the next.
My belongings went on their merry way through the mini-car wash and moved off to the far conveyor, the conveyor for would-be assassins.
My bin arrived on the table and I asked politely if I should remove it now.
“You most certainly may not,” the screener shouted and snatched the bin from me. I jumped as if I had been electrocuted.
Electrocution might have been the better option.
“Do you have a laptop in your bag?” she shouted again without looking at me and using her most accusatory tone.
I nodded in the affirmative, wanting to be a woman of few words.
I pointed to the other screeners saying they had gone through my bag, but she cut me off and loudly informed me I would have to go back to the beginning, like playing Monopoly and being sent to jail without passing “GO.”
I was required to start again. I came very close to losing my mind, but wanted to get home instead of being placed in a room getting body searched.
I chanted in my head about never flying again, though that is highly unrealistic.
I wonder why it is not possible to perform the necessary security screenings while being polite and assuming that most of us are not terrorists. I wonder why that it is so difficult and unreasonable to wish for.
The whole experience left me drained and I need to witness some kindness very soon or who knows what will happen.
wendistewart@live.ca

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