Security vs Checked Baggage Fees: Which Is Your Bigger Frustration?

I spoke with CNN the other day about this piece on air travel frustrations. It was prompted by recent increases in checked baggage fees, but I told the reporter I couldn’t really speak to my personal experiences with those in so far as I usually don’t pay them as an elite traveler (or an upgraded one).

So I laid out what I find to be the major inconveniences, and that’s primarily the farce that’s airport security.

Gary Leff, another frequent flier who lives in Arlington, Virginia, called this part of the security process the “shoe carnival.” For him, the vast amounts of time spent waiting are the biggest hassle of flying. …”It takes more time and so you have to leave earlier and earlier to go to the airport. Most of the time you just wind up sitting… but you don’t know what the lines are going to be like.”

Leff said it’s not clear that any of the security measures being taken — including putting people through full-body scanners and producing detailed images in what he jokingly called “nudiscope” — actually protect travelers. “It’s mostly silliness,” Leff, 35, said. “If I’m a terrorist, I’m happy, right? Look at what I’ve caused.”

The only thing that makes the piece noteworthy for me is that I managed to get in both shoe carnival and nude-o-scope!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Interesting article; there’s no doubt that there are lots of opportunities to get frustrated with flying: Security process, baggage fees, little bin space in the cabins, no leg room, surly flight attendants, getting nickel and dimed for food, etc.

    Having said all that, I am sympathetic with the airlines, as we travelers scour the web for the lowest possible fares, which puts a lot of pressure on airlines to find ways to minimize prices. I’m also very sympathetic to the security staff at airports: They have a very important job for which they are paid very little, and spend their days listening to grumbling passengers.

    My suggestion: Appreciate that we often get good fares, bring as little as possible to avoid baggage fees and/or hassles stowing bags in the cabin, and grin & bear the security process that’s for our own good.

  2. I found out going through SeaTac the other day that military personnel in uniform (or…people who look like they’re in military uniform? Since it didn’t seem anyone was checking their credentials at the machine) don’t have to take off their shoes. The soldier said “Because they know it’s so hard for us to take these boots off”. Which I’m sure it is, but….security theater much? Because we all know a military person would never go crazy and…er…ahem…

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