“The New Normal” was a phrase that first appeared in the aftermath of 9/11. Or at least that’s the first time I remember hearing it.

As we approach the one week mark of the latest version of Threat Level Orange, I think “the new normal” is creeping ever closer to the semi-permanent normal. We can hope that the situation with carry-on liquids improves rapidly, but I’m growing more doubtful that there will be a quick resolution to this. I have no real evidence to support my change of heart, let’s just call it a hunch for now.

Until we either develop the technology to detect the difference between an explosive and a bottle of water or find some other whiz-bang method to ensure that terrorists don’t board airplanes, I’m afraid there won’t be any change. While I can almost understand the restriction on bringing a bottle of what appears to be water from home on board the aircraft, am I wrong to wonder why anything purchased behind the security checkpoint can’t be trusted? I suspect the answer to that question is that officials in charge of security lack total confidence in the screening process of the individuals working behind the checkpoints and the goods that they sell.

Going forward, I think the best we can hope for is a phased approach to improved screening of goods sold in the secure areas of airports and the employees that sell those goods that will thus lead to the ability to carry on goods purchased beyond the security checkpoint. Given my experience in airports, I can appreciate what a labor-intensive challenge that process is going to be. We’ll see what happens with this. But if things don’t change, it is going to have an impact on demand for air service, especially in short-haul markets.