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WALKING SANS BAND EQUIPMENT, AS GOD INTENDED (PHOTO COURTESY BEE ELVY)
Dear Mr. Moyer:
As a representative of the Transportation Security Administration, I write to criticize your recent travel itinerary and address related issues in re: your alternative lifestyle.
Our records indicate that you flew from Philadelphia to Rome on 9 October 2007 to complete a European tour with your postpunk musical trio. At this tour’s conclusion, you scheduled a return flight for 11 November 2007 from London to New York—-not to Philadelphia, where you had left your car parked at your parents’ suburban home—-to save a small sum of money (approximately $200, or less than $70 per band member). “I’ll just find a cheap way to get from New York to Philadelphia,” you thought. “Besides, my London to New York itinerary connects through Philadelphia. Inexplicably, these flights from London to Philadelphia to New York are cheaper than one flight from London to Philadelphia. So, I’ll book the cheaper London-Philadelphia-New York routing, and find a way to simply deplane in Philadelphia.”
Your genius plan neglected the following factors:
1. Fees People traveling from London to New York via Philadelphia do not “simply deplane in Philadelphia.”Â Instead, travelers are required to go where they say they are going. As an US Airways representative informed you, any change in your itinerary carries a $100 fee. “But I’m not trying to change my itinerary,” you explained. “I’m just trying, you know, not to, you know, totally complete it. You understand?” As you are now aware, the US Airways representative did not understand, proved unwilling to waive this $100 fee and, at the end of the day, probably didn’t care about your or your little problem.
2. 9/11 Post-9/11, baggage traveling from London to New York via Philadelphia cannot, as you put it, “simply be taken off of the plane in Philadelphia.”Â Instead, baggage is required to go where the people carrying it say they are going. If you are going to New York, your baggage is going to New York. If baggage could just be sent anywhere by anyone at anytime, willy-nilly…well, let’s just say that this would be Mr. Osama Bin Laden’s wet dream, and TSA is not in the business of pleasuring Mr. Osama Bin Laden.
3. Gear You are a musician who travels with heavy musicmaking equipment. “To avoid baggage issues, I won’t check any baggage,” you might plan. “I’ll just stuff everything I can into my carry-on luggage. In Philadelphia, I’ll carry this luggage off of the plane and, instead of boarding my scheduled flight to New York, I’ll leave the airport.”Â I will admit it: this plan may work. But consider—-you can disassemble your drum hardware and stuff it into a small hardshell suitcase, but do you really want to? In addition, you must now transport this weighy drum hardware from the airport to your parents’ suburban home. If you parents are, for some reason, unable to pick you up, this means that you will have to take a SEPTA shuttle bus from Philadelphia International Airport to 30th Street Station in downtown Philadelphia, board an R2 SEPTA commuter train from downtown Philadelphia to Melrose Park Station in suburban Philadelphia, and either wait 45 minutes for a taxicab or walk 1.21 miles from Melrose Park Station to your parents’ house carrying what now must feel like incredibly heavy drum hardware, a bass guitar, your computer, all of your clothes, and the ten novels you purchased while in Europe. Now, no one would actually do that, would they? If they did, maybe they would stash the drum hardware in the bushes halfway through the walk home, get their car, drive back to the bushes, and pick up the drum hardware. That seems more sensible.
Mr. Moyer, the Transportation Security Administration is committed on winning the War on Terror—-terrors both foreign and domestic. In our view, the logistical hurdles you have set before yourself and your bandmates are a form of terrorism and do not justify the $200 you have saved by refusing to book a direct flight from London to Philadelphia. In the future, you should avoid acts of terrorism and disregard minor financial matters when pursuing your visionary dreams of art, fun, and an alternative lifestyle. This will make things easier on you and, by extension, those around you.
Peace of mind is, of course, the greatest security. Remember this.
Yours in struggle,
[name redacted] Representative of the Transportation Security Administration