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Airport Security: Don't Take It Personally

April 2007
Airport Security: Don't Take It Personally

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Thank you for flying British Airways Flight 324 nonstop from London to New York. We are still awaiting our security clearance from U.S. authorities, but it's safe to

assume that we'll land in New York sometime in the next month or so.

If you look to your left, you will see a landmark that attracts more than one million tourists every year. It's called Heathrow Airport. Yes, we haven't yet taken off, as a few astute passengers have noticed. Needless to say, we

would rather wait on the ground than in the air -- it's so much easier to get a refill. You won't believe how fast we go through our liquor cart.

The weather in New York is cold and breezy, with a 30 percent chance of snow. But why am I telling you that? By the time we get there, it might be summer.

Of course, there is still a possibility the status of this flight will be changed to "delayed indefinitely" from its current status of "delayed definitely." If that happens, you may be asked to disembark immediately. With that in mind, I

would advise you not to get too comfortable. You may recline your seat and stretch your legs, but please don't change into your pajamas.

If you are spotted wearing pajamas in the airport, the United States may revoke your visa. In fact, if you are seen wearing any type of clothing that does not conform to standards established by the U.S. Attorney General, as

specified in Section IV, Paragraph 3 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, you may be denied entry into the United States, unless, of course, you can prove you're a member of the clergy.

Please do not take this personally. These measures have been taken to protect you from people who look like you.

As you've probably heard, the U.S. government recently raised the national threat level to orange, which means there's a high risk of terrorists attacking people with oranges. This may seem like a minor threat to you, but has

anyone ever squeezed an orange peel into your eye?

As a result of this threat, airport security has been beefed up, with apologies to our vegetarian passengers. Some of you already know this, having spent the last two hours being poked at. A few of you may have come under extra scrutiny, especially if you have names such as Hussein, Ahmed and Abdul. But most of you are white and your names, thankfully, create no concern, as I just told the three men in first class, an Englishman named Hunt, an American named Rob, and a Dutchman named Harm.

Once we get to New York, you may be photographed and fingerprinted, especially if you come from a non-European country. Please do not take this personally. No one is saying that you're a terrorist. They're just saying that you look like one.

Before I finish, I'd like to draw your attention to the back of the plane, where you'll see that we have an Indian man flying with us today. Please do not panic. He has been through a special 16-hour security check. We even tested the oil in his hair. You'll be glad to know that it isn't flammable. Among the items we've confiscated from this man are two sharp pencils, one orange and a bottle of a caustic, tongue-burning substance that he claims is lemon pickle.

Anyway, I just want you to know that this man will soon get up to use the restroom, escorted by three armed flight marshals. His activities in the restroom will be observed with 206 cameras, one for every bone in his body. He has been instructed to keep his hands raised above his head at all times, so you might not want to use the restroom after him.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I'm retiring in a couple of months and I feel a strong urge to be completely open with my passengers, an urge I've had ever since the liquor cart went by.

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