Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Plane Travel and What Not to Wear

It is important to dress comfortably for plane travel. Nowadays one never knows when hours might be spent hunched in airline terminal seats, waiting for your plane to finally load and take off.

Or you might nestle yourself comfortably in a tight plane seat, only to find yourself looking out the window at the runway for what seems like an interminable amount of time as mechanical problems or other delays force your plane to remain on the ground for an extended period of time.

Or you could find yourself stranded in a city between flights. The initial flight was cancelled/delayed/aborted/hijacked/hit by a strike – whatever – and you must find a semi-comfortable place to lay your weary head and the rest of your body until you can either reach your destination or return home.

Or you can be subject to a TSA pat down.

This past weekend I took a one-hour flight to Boston. I dressed for travel and wore what I thought was a very comfortable, practical outfit - a pair of loose fitting capris, matching T shirt and long-sleeved top. I usually get cold on planes.

The outfit had small rivets/snaps/studs (I am not sure what they are called) on the pants and blouse. It never occurred to me these small objects would set off a state-of-the-art security system.
My travel outfit 
But they did.

The airport security line was short and moved quickly. After taking off my sandals, belt, long-sleeved shirt and a couple of bracelets, I put my backpack on the conveyor belt and entered the human scanning machine.

I set my feet on the yellow footpads, placed my hands over my head, and a couple of seconds later walked out.

The TSA guy strode forward and told me to stand on a second set of footpads.

Then another TSA guy said I would need a pat down. 

I had set off the TSA alarm system. 

A woman employee walked over and gathered my belongings – backpack, belt, jewelry, shirt, and sandals. Then we moved over to the side of the room. I could have a private pat down, but decided it was unnecessary.

The TSA woman explained exactly what was going to happen. She would pat down my entire body, including my breasts and inside my thighs. She donned gloves and told me what she was going to do, then proceeded to do the pat down, one section of my body after another.

It did not take long.

I was not hiding any contraband - no drugs, bombs, books (luckily I left my recently acquired copy of Fifty Shades of Grey home) or other stuff. Nothing (except fat cells) was hidden in my undergarments. Nothing was sewn into my clothes (the last time I sewed anything I was pregnant with my first child. He is now 36).

After we were done the woman explained that, in the future, to avoid another similar episode, I should wear the ‘in’ outfit for today’s savvy traveler:

”…Stretch pants and a plain T shirt.”

The T-shirt I can wear.

Stretch pants in public, I don’t think so. 


I'll take my chances with the TSA crowd.