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August 16, 2006

Things I Could Not Fly Without

9500 RemindersTHERE IS NO WAY I would consider flying across an ocean without a Moleskine journal, a thread sown notebook, an iPod, a Cross pen, a yellow highlighter and a Nokia Communicator. And there's no way I'd toss those items into a trash bin en route to boarding an aircraft. These items represent more than €1300 worth of personal luggage that I carry everywhere every day. Even those who were transported as part of the Final Solution were granted the liberty to carry significant personal effects.

I have safely operated trans-oceanic aircraft as a pilot-in-command for more than 1500 flying hours. I refuse to consider the things that provide me inspiration and reflection to be implements of terrorism. Since my opinion diverges from those who think they're protecting me from my own devices, I won't pay to fly under their terms.

I know pre-flight screening have loosened up somewhat but I resent the erosion of my liberty to travel. I know you can never make the operation of passenger carriage totally safe. I also know you invite chaos if you permit security authorities the final say in the proper running of any network--be it communications, transportation, sanitation, or finance. As a taxpayer, I would rather my money go into the making of propaganda that targets those who think they will be rewarded with the service of 72 virgins for their martyrdom.  [2.7 MB 96kbps MP3 file]  There needs to be another message to counter the fervent call to terrorism.

If I were a flight operator like Michael O'Leary, I'd start doing the sums to determine the ticket cost for business jet carriage across the Atlantic. In my mind, you could offer 45 passengers comfortable travel aboard a Boeing Business Jet for less than EUR 6000 return between London and New York while earning triple the margin Ryanair currently gets from cattle class carriage. The airport authorities have made high class travel a viable option and as soon as the major carriers enter the fray, a rekindled traveling public will re-emerge from the clouds of fifty years ago. First up: politicians flying at your expense. Just watch and see. They will be the ones boarding without a queue on the general aviation side of the airport. Whenever I transited that space, I never got asked for a passport and I always got a free soft drink inside the waiting room.


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In Pens and Paper, I mentioned my underutilized Moleskine. Last weekend on a trip to the mountains for family reunion, birthday celebrations and genealogy hunting, my little black book was my constant companion - the perfect fit in cargo... [Read More]

Comments

I like the look of these guys
www.maxjet.com
first class jfk-Stanstead for a 1000 pounds.

I've been enjoying your blog for a while, but your flip suggestion that all who adhere to muslim dietary law (and indeed all Kosher or vegetarian eaters) should be screened out of flights so that you can use your valued gadgets is not on par with the usual level of your discourse.

Robert's right. I wrote some things I later regretted so this post reflects an editorial revision.

Besides, my ill-advised reference to food or sprays deflects the real concerns I have. I'm not convinced airline security strategies are well-formed and I think the government is too quick to react when it can put citizens in a terror-alert mode.

It is perhaps bad form to avoid commenting on a blog one loves to let the blogger know that their work is valued, and then show up only to criticize. So to remedy that, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoy your blog, and I thank you for doing it.

I think online conversation has to be free of gender, race, age, and religious bias. I use editorial privilege to remove racist, ageist, sexist and religious prejudice when they emerge on comments left on this blog. Sometimes it's difficult looking in the mirror and exercising that same editorial control.

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