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Published: Tuesday, 6/26/2007

Airports Today: Kind of Like the Good Ol' Russian Bread Lines of Yesterday

WEDNESDAY

12 PM

Waiting in the security line at Detroit Metro Airport earlier this week, I tried to amuse my daughter by telling her about air travel back in the day.

When my mother and I would go drop my dad off at Toledo Express? They d just let us out the door along with the passengers. We d walk with them all up to the fence. And then they d go through the gate, and walk over to the stairs that d been wheeled up to the airplane. And they d hike up the steps, turn around and give one last wave, and then disappear into the airplane. Then the plane would taxi down the runway, take off, and boom. It was done.

She shook her head.

"Yeah, I know," she said, "but it's hard to imagine an airport without a line.

She meant the security line. She meant the ID checks. She meant taking off her shoes. She meant the X-ray machine. She meant the metal detectors. She meant 3-ounce shampoo bottles. She meant the TSA people. She meant the whole bothersome process.

Believe it or not, there was a time when none of this existed, I said.

At 17, she barely remembers when we flew in a pre-9/11 era back when it was still a relatively simple affair, although not quite as easy as the mid-1960s. It's virtually impossible for her to remember a time when you had a boarding pass, and that entitled you to simply get on a plane.

You think that s something? Imagine this: There was once a time when people dressed for plane trips!

She'd heard the stories from her grandmother, but that didn't make it any easier to envision, and the very idea made her laugh.

It s true! When I was a very little girl, women always wore dresses and even hats, and men wore suits. No one but no one ever showed up for their flight in sweat pants and flip-flops. That would have been unthinkable.

Of course, I didn t remind her that airplane seats then were far more generous, or that airlines served meals on china. I didn t tell her that air travel on the whole was a far more civilized affair than it is now.

Hey, c mon. A little wonder is a good thing

As for us, we re catching a plane back home today. We ll pass through the usual security measures, and sit in the usual sardine seats, and gratefully accept the little six-ounce plastic cup of ginger ale.

But at least we ll get home



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