Whatever happened to respect?

Four – that’s how many bins I need to get through the security gates with my luggage in tow.

I know how to pack my suitcase, which shoes to wear and even the best order in which to put my belongings into the bins to minimize my time packing it all up on the other end.

My gripe isn’t with the fact that I have to go through a security checkpoint to fly – it’s with the process of going through the checkpoint itself.

The problem lies with the three-ounce bottles in the no-larger-than-one-quart container. It’s with the security employees, many of whom equate taking their jobs seriously with treating you as if you’re ruining their day by trying to board your flight.

It’s with the “Do Not Fly” lists, which cause unnecessary delays for many U.S. passengers on a regular basis. I’m luckily not on any such list, but I have numerous friends who are, and they’re always selected for extra screenings. Many show up at the airport 2-3 hours before their flight departs, just to make sure they can deal with the lengthy security process – on top of the regular screening – without missing their flight completely.

I get it. I fly, on average, at least once a month, and many months, I’m lucky enough to criss-cross the sky in the name of business far more frequently than that. I want to get to my destination as safely as the person sitting next to me, and I’m happy to go through a reasonable checkpoint to make sure that happens.

But I’d like to be treated like a human, and I want to believe that the rules are in place for my safety, not just for the appearance of safety.

Take those little three-ounce containers, for example. I have long hair and need two of those three-ounce bottles of conditioner to get through a week-long trip (I carry on for trips seven days or under – always). I usually don’t have to touch the second bottle, but I’ve been caught sans conditioner before, and trust me, it’s not pretty. And because I don’t feel like going out and buying a new three-ounce bottle every time I travel, I wash them out when they’re empty and fill them right back up – often with a different product completely.

The screenings are supposed to prevent me from carrying on harmful, potentially dangerous substances in those little bottles, but I really wonder how much attention is paid to what goes into them. I’ve had to travel back through a security line because I had a tube of lip gloss in my purse instead of in my one-quart bag — but never questioned about the contents of the other random vessels inside the bag.

My list of grievances doesn’t end there. What about the people working at the checkpoints? Some will say “Hello“ or smile back if you smile at them, but most maintain an air of careful disdain, if not one of outright distaste.  I end up feeling like I’ve done something wrong by the end of the checkpoint, for the simple fact that I had to go through it. Whatever happened to treating fellow human beings like fellow human beings?

I like to travel. I like the act of flight. I like the destinations, and I love coming home. I won’t (and can’t) stop traveling, and I won’t stop carrying my bags on the plane (hello, baggage fees!) and have to wait 30 minutes on the back end to collect a bag in the name of full-size cosmetics.

But I’d like to lodge a formal request to be treated like a human as I pass through the security checkpoints. My business is what keeps your business in business. Please treat me with at least a little respect as I trudge through the line at 5:30 a.m. to catch my 7 a.m. flight.

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Ashlynn Arias

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