Friday, May 7, 2010

The Baggage We All Carry

Let’s talk about why Faisal Shahzad got on Air Emirates when he was supposed to be on the no-fly list. Actually, there isn’t much to talk about. Most seasoned fliers can probably provide the answers to the questions that international security services, from the CIA to the Mossad, will be asking in the days ahead, though the answers are likely to be more anecdotal than statistical. Ask how many parents of toddlers who have ordered the chicken nuggets happy meal on the flight to Frankfurt have received instead a series of kosher or vegetarian selections, including the none too happy-making hummus and baba ganoush platter. Or, let’s discuss communications regarding another star-crossed flight, the Northwest Airlines plane carrying passengers to Detroit on Christmas Day. And what about the earlier blunder allowing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to get on a KLM flight in Lagos in the first place? By the way, Faisal’s and Umar’s fathers could join the same support group in that they are both prominent citizens, one a banker and one a former high ranking Air Force officer, in their respective countries. They would inevitably have something to offer in a discussion about how lives of privilege lead to Taliban membership. Come to think of it, it would make a great Oprah. But we are digressing. Any investigation that deals with why people who shouldn’t are getting on planes must go back to asking the question of why certain pieces of luggage are not getting on planes when they should.  Why have so many of us found that our luggage has inadvertently made it onto an unintentional no-fly list? Let’s talk about checking a bag from Kennedy to Nice with a stopover in Paris. Let’s talk about the valiant Alitalia baggage personnel in Florence who located said bag as it was refused entrance to yet another country. “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars,” but in the baggage we carry. Discover all the lost bags that never made it on planes and you’ll find the explanation for all the terrorists who did. And what about the baggage we all carry around even when we’re not flying?

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