C is for C-4, that’s good enough for me!

Cookies reported as possible security threat on a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Detroit (via TalkLeft, which also is where I found the Cookie Monster photo):

[T—– G—] was boarding a Frontier Airlines flight in Denver a week before the 10th anniversary of 9/11 when he saw two passengers in line ahead of him hand a tin box to a flight attendant.

The flight attendant seemed surprised, but she removed the lid to discover a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, G— said. She thanked the passengers profusely and started eating the cookies and passing them to other flight attendants, said G—, 22, . . . a senior at the University of Michigan.

“Free drinks for you guys,” G— said he remembers the flight attendant saying to the two passengers.

G—‘s thoughts immediately shifted to security. Were the cookies possibly poisoned?

“I was just so stunned by how excited the stewardess was acting,” he said. “You would think the flight crew is trained to evaluate the situation, but she blindly started eating the cookies and handing them out.

“She then goes into the cockpit to serve cookies to the pilots,” said G—, who said he watched intently from his seat in Row 5. “I go, ‘Oh, no, this is getting worse by the second.’ I am thinking something is wrong. I was pretty afraid.”

There is a higher ed angle to this story, of course:  it’s not the passenger who complained to the TSA.  No, it was his helicopter mother, who of course wasn’t even on the flight in question:

G— later discussed the incident with his parents. His mother, S—-, urged him to report it to authorities, but he said he was too busy at school to get to it immediately. So S—- G— contacted the Transportation Security Administration and got nowhere, she said. She then emailed the Tribune.

A Frontier spokesman told your Getting Around reporter that the airline tracked down the flight attendants and pilots and interviewed them. The tin of cookies was a gift to the flight crew from two passengers who were friends of a Frontier employee, said Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuk. One of the two passengers was a girl, possibly around 12 years old, he said.

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

“My thinking was this is something that could be serious and easily slip through if no one reports it,” S—- G— said. “What if this was a trial run to test whether a cookie terror attack could bring down a plane? It’s the stupidest thing, but who knows? You have to be concerned, especially when you have a plane up in the air.”

Now, that’s a flight I’m on every once in a while, and I’m all for passenger awareness.  But, come on.  I don’t blame the passenger T—– G— for this, though:  what he observed was just an amusing (if paranoid) airline travel story until it got reported to the TSA.  (p.s to Helicopter parents:  if you are so concerned about airline safety, insist that you fly with them at all times, or buy your children Amtrack or Greyhound tickets next time.)

I’m with Flavia on the exhaustion of exasperation.  We can move millions of people in flying steel tubes around this country every day, but not until they engage in the ritual practice of removing their shoes and walking through the Magical Portal.  It’s the secular confession or communion of modernity, I suppose, with a gesture towards the Muslim practice of foot washing.  (I *wish* we were offered footbaths after taking off our shoes.  I really don’t relish exposure to everyone else’s bacteria and foot fungus!  Eeeww.)

18 thoughts on “C is for C-4, that’s good enough for me!

  1. Gotta watch out for the poisoned cookies!
    Actually, this leaves me speechless. Poisoning the flight crew with oatmeal raisin cookies would be so weird.


  2. Keep this guy off Amtrak! A hallucinogenic-laced macaroon might cause the engineer to think ze had spotted a thousand-head herd of wild bison huddled on the mainline track west of Holdredge, NE, throw the locomotive into reverse coming down into the Niobrara cutoff, and pile up the California Zephyr!!!


  3. Yeah, and it’s not like the California Zephyr doesn’t already have its own problems. I think a LOT of people have been stranded in Denver for a LONG time this summer because of various midwestern and farther-western track problems, collisions, etc.


  4. Worse places to be stranded than in Denver, though… I recommend the Empire Builder along the north coast for “power-through-the-herds” levels of performativity. I did once get trapped on it for two days while still moving (toward the AHA) with the chair of a search committee from whom I already had a thanks-but letter back in my space. Weird enough, but no reason to call Homeland Security.


  5. It is the seed of fascism, the great “what if!” The preemptive strike! There is something wrong-headed coming from it from the angle of helicopter parent, although I am at a loss as to what angle to suggest. It is something bigger, more sinister at play.


  6. Umm. You can bring your own food on the plane now. They x-ray your sandwich its not a big deal.

    the real problem here is that helicopter parent found something sinister in *sharing*

    Had the two children in question started selling the cookies for $3 a pop in the middle of the flight, then they would have been completely within their rights as entrepreneurs. Indeed they would have been awarded the Ayn Rand medal for budding free-marketeers. They would have both sold at the going rate and circumvented government control of the market.

    But instead, they did the commie thing and shared. The shame of it. Their parents ought to be investigated. Who will think of the children?


  7. Back in November of 2001 I flew to a meeting, and there were of course all kinds of warnings in the airports and over the intercom – including a warning not to joke about any of the security precautions. A couple of weeks later I was again flying, that time with my family including my teenage son. The screening agent made a humorous comment about my son’s large shoes – and I said, I thought we weren’t supposed to joke. He said, When they won’t let me joke, I’m leaving.
    A month or so later, voila, the Shoe Bomber incident.
    Even so, I am in favor of making jokes about these things whenever possible, and I hope that screener never got in trouble for his shoe-related jokes!


  8. I did that because I’m not in the business of shaming individuals so much as drawing attention to foolish behavior. It’s true that anyone can read the names at the link, but I just wasn’t comfortable using my blog that way.

    Their individual identities aren’t important–it’s the reaction to the cookies and the decision by a non-passenger to call the TSA that’s the important issue.


  9. Be careful about bringing food. Cookies, ok until you encounter a helicopter parent. Greek yogurt and peanut butter, not solid enough to let through.

    I had to eat it on the spot.


  10. @MattL – I think you’re totally right about the sharing angle. There is nothing 21st century (helicopter) parents are more terrified of than sharing food. Just think how Halloween became a hysteria-fueled interventionfest (even before the awareness about nut allergies) after some apocryphal stories about poisoned candy. Those of us raised in the 80s and later are culturally programmed to imagine sharing food with strangers as the most dangerous activity ever. Only a sociopath would offer strangers food, and only a fool would take food from a stranger.


  11. Interesting point–and a good one, I think.

    One of the things I really like about living out in flyoverland is that these anxieties about allergies seem to be pretty muted. Birthdays are celebrated with classroom treats without having everything X-rayed and screened for tree or ground-nut, soy, gluten, or whatever allergies.

    Mabye it’s the Western attitude: it’s your affair, and none of my own, so children are raised to take care of their own allergies.


  12. Children are raised to take care of their own allergies… and be polite about declining. That individual assertiveness, rather than class-wide banning of suspect treats, also means taking care of one’s self with alternate goodies brought from home… which helicopter mom/dad probably don’t want the fuss of making. Hmmm….


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