Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Letter to the New President-Elect

Dear President Obama:

You were right. You said that America needed change, and a majority of voters agreed with you. We’d like to humbly suggest a couple of things in the travel industry that could use a dose or two of change.

The Airport Experience: Some day, when no one is looking, head to a big airport yourself and stand in the cheap-seats check-in line. Check a couple of bags. Stand in the security line. Remove your shoes, place your belongings on the conveyer. Watch as a myopic, humorless, brain-dead worker-bee tries to decipher the strange shapes in your carry-on bag. This is “security”? I’m sorry, Mr. President, but this is theatre. If the TSA won’t even be screening 50% of all air cargo until February 2009, the 4 ounces of liquid in the grandmother’s purse is not the issue. If the people of this country felt that airport security really was about deterring terrorists, citizens would be behind it all the way. But the current system just insults our intelligence and our dignity.

International Relationships: We applaud your campaign words to actually talk to foreign leaders, even ones we don’t “like” very much. We suggest you take it a step further, and allow Americans to travel anywhere in the world they desire. Specifically, we’re talking about Cuba. Now that the “we-hate-Fidel” Florida Cuban vote is less of a political issue, please consider resuming normal relations with the island. Better yet, why not visit yourself? You might find it as beautiful as your home state of Hawaii, with people just as open, friendly, and interesting. Remember, whether it’s Cuba or Croatia, the more of the world Americans see, and the more we can share our values with other people, the more we can become knowledgeable and compassionate citizens of the world.

We could go on about other things we feel need “change” in America (especially the health-insurance industry). And let’s clean up our financial house of cards. To us, anything that changes our world view – both internally in the U.S. and of the world itself – would be the most lasting and positive change possible. And anything that snaps America out of its naval-gazing rut will be good for the country, for travelers, and for the world.

We applaud your victory, and hope the next four (or eight) years under your leadership bring a new era of enlightenment to our country – in travel and many other areas.

Trinidad, Cuba