On Fear of Flying, Terrorism, American Biz & LISTS (962 words)
I have been flying for over a half century and the airlines do not know me from Mohammed Atta. After 50 years of flying -- and having paid the airlines hundreds of thousands of dollars over that period -- I should be greeted with, "Mr. Hatch, how nice to see you again," just as a I am at Primavera, Monte Carlo, Django, Overtures, the Union League and the other Philadelphia watering holes I frequent. Instead, I -- and everyone waiting in those endless lines at the airport -- are treated like potential terrorists, scowled at and patted down by screeners on minimum wage, many of whom themselves may well have criminal records.
What would it take for the airlines to woo me back to the skies on a regular basis? How about an E-Z Passenger Card?
My wife, Peggy, and I have E-Z Pass, that wonderful little box affixed to our windshield behind the rear view mirror that allows us to zip through toll plazas while the majority waits to pay cash. It is a marvel of convenience that driving from Washington, D.C. to Buffalo a delight.
Why not let E-Z Pass be the model for an E-Z Passenger Card?
Here is how it could work. Peggy and I will pay $500 to $1,000 each for a federally licensed investigator to check us out. That gumshoe will be invited into our house to meet our dog and cat, examine our lifestyle, look at my art collection, go through my CDs, books and videocassettes, spend time on our computers (or download the entire hard drive, for that matter) to discover that we are not into scams, embezzlement, kiddie porn or offshore gambling. Our bank accounts, Fidelity retirement portfolios and tax returns would be opened for inspection, as would our personal and business address books, with permission granted to interview anyone in our past and present (including my ex-wives if they could be found). On leaving the house, the investigator would take our pictures -- as well as fingerprints and a retina scan if that is part of the deal. Once the investigation is complete, a Federal Express package would arrive with our E-Z Passenger Cards that would probably look like the new military ID with photograph, CV, magnetic stripe, etc.