NEW YORK - In the wake of the foiled terror attack on Northwest Airlines flight 253 in December of 2009, federal officials imposed new restrictions on travelers, including requiring them to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps.
Apparently that wasn't enough, as the incidents plaguing a terrified flying public continue to mount.
At Los Angeles International Airport a suspicious toddler was recently subdued by alert Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents while creating a disturbance when asked by TSA employees to empty her SpongeBob SquarePants sippy cup.
"She was babbling in some foreign tongue," said TSA agent Fritz Warton, a hardened veteran in the war on terror. "It was either 'want juice' or 'death to America' and I damn sure wasn't waiting to find out which it was."
Authorities arrested the child's parents when they defended the young girl by claiming their 18-month-old daughter had not yet learned to speak. Todd and Wendy Jensen are being held without bond at L.A. County Jail pending transfer to Guantanamo Bay where they will face a military tribunal.
"It's just a shame so many parents are raising their children to hate America," sighed Warton, as he returned to frisking a wheelchair-bound elderly woman.
In another telling incident, an American Airlines flight departing New Jersey's Newark airport was spared disaster when heroic passengers wrestled a man to the ground and hog-tied him with seatbelts when the suspect claimed his middle seat was too restrictive and attempted to move to an empty row.
"He said he was going to 'move his seat' and I'm pretty darned sure that's a terrorist code phrase for 'blow these Yankee jackals out of the sky,'" said Billy Joe Johnson, who was on the Houston-bound fight. "He had blond hair, a southern accent and a Christian cross around his neck - but I'm positive he was one of them Muslims."
And despite an avalanche of lawsuits against airlines - including one from a man who was made to remove his cargo shorts and fly pantsless when gate agents determined that the excessive number of pockets posed a safety risk - the air transportation industry remains steadfast in its goal of keeping the skies safe from terror.
One airline has announced that passengers on all domestic flights exceeding two hours will be bound and chained to their seats for the entire journey. Complimentary mashed pretzels and Diet Coke will be fed to travelers via feeding tubes -- full, mashed meals will be available for a modest $22.00 charge -- and specially-trained nurses will insert catheters in passengers unable to avoid urination on cross-country trips.
That's just fine with Sid Badura, of Omaha Nebraska, who was flying with his partially-nude family to Orlando.
"Heck, I don't care if they put me in the cargo hold with a bucket of oats and a pee bottle for the entire flight," he said. "We can't let these damn terrorists win."
You can reach Bob Geiger at firstname.lastname@example.org