Today marks the busiest travel day of the year in our fair United States. Airlines expect 24 million people to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday period, according to AAA as reported by the Connecticut Post. Young adults make up 30.5 percent of holiday travelers, many of them students eagerly voyaging home for the first time since summer break. While the country is abuzz and perhaps disgruntled with new travel regulations by the TSA, our bloggers report that the student voice on this issue is surprisingly mum.
In 68 airports nationwide, travelers have the choice between full-body scanners (that are replacing the traditional metal detectors) and invasive pat-downs. News publications have been covering the national response to and occasional uproar against these new travel developments. However, students — AAA says the 18-34 year old travelers category has increased from 28.1 percent in 2009 to 30.5 percent in 2010 — seem pretty unfazed. “Many of my friends are driving home for Thanksgiving and the ones that are flying don’t seem to be too concerned about the new regulations, although they do seem to know about them,” reported Jenna Cohen, a student at Carnegie Mellon. One senior reported that the travel regulations haven’t come up in conversation at all.
The new pat-downs and full-body scanners, instituted on November 1, are in response to the “underwear bomber,” who tried to use explosives in his underwear to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253, a plane flying from Amsterdam to the U.S. on Christmas Day 2009. “While I think it could be vexing if one is in a long line, I’d rather that the TSA take extra precautions than a tragedy take place,” wrote Carly Silver, a Columbia student. Silver is in line with most people who support the new full-body scanning machines, but half of Americans say the pat-downs are far too invasive, according to a survey conducted by MSNBC.
Yedidya Schwartz, a Yale student, mentioned the frustration some of his peers feel with the Orthodox response to the pat-downs. Some members of the Orthodox community have responded negatively to the invasive nature of the pat-downs and the graphic quality of the scanned images.
It is interesting to me that there has been such a dearth of student response to the TSA regulations, at least as far as our reportage has uncovered. Is it because most students are driving home not flying? Or maybe they, unlike other people such as Jeffrey Goldberg, don’t appreciate that the scanners and pat-downs have the potential to infringe on their rights. Or it could just be the academic schedule — the line of papers due before Thanksgiving weekend clouds out any other potential thought processes, no matter what the power of the national discussion.