Love is in the Air

Alainna Dougherty explains her love for the TSA and all things airports


photo by Hayley Simon

Hayley Simon, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Alainna Dougherty is a well known student here at North Allegheny Senior High. She can be found going from table to table in the cafeteria each morning, spreading smiles wherever she goes. Passionate and expressive, Alainna isn’t afraid to be herself. And as everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Alainna knows, her favorite topic of discussion is airports. Alainna loves the airport and is so hooked on it that she takes to carrying around TSA gloves and showing people her professionally laminated TSA badge. So, in this long overdue interview, I sat down with Alainna to talk with her about planes and just how she came to love them in the first place.

When did you start loving the airport and why?

It was May 2017, when I went to Florida for my grandma’s 80th birthday, and it was my first flight since I was four, so I was really excited when we found out we were going to fly. I guess you could say it was “love at first flight!” And I think my experience at the airport was also really good. My sparkling water exploded on me. That happened! I just had a good experience at the airport. I wasn’t that into the TSA back then. That came later.

How often do you visit the airport?

I can’t really go there that much because you can only get air-side access during the week. So, I have to be in school, obviously. I haven’t been to the airport since New Year’s, but I’m going to the airport on my birthday, and I’m really excited about it.

Do you see yourself working at the airport when you are older?

Yes! Specifically with Southwest. I was always thinking about being a flight attendant because then I could travel and get paid for it. Sweet! But then if I could get any job with Southwest that would be cool. I don’t know if I could be a TSA agent, but maybe I could. I don’t know if anyone can see me as a TSA agent.

What is it about Southwest that, in your opinion, makes them better than other airlines?

Okay, well, it’s a lot of things, but I’m just gonna keep it simple. It’s because they don’t charge you for first and second checked bag fees, change fees or other things like that. They call it “tranceFAREncy.” That’s actually a thing. And their low fares– they actually stay low because they don’t have any hidden fees. Even though they don’t have first class or business class, they treat everybody the same, so that’s kind of nice. And you don’t get assigned seats either.

Have you ever flown on an airline other than Southwest?

Probably when I was four, but I don’t remember that because I was so small. But if I had to fly another airline now, it’d be like a sin.

What do you love about the TSA?

Okay, before people start screaming at me, saying, “You’re crazy because you actually love the TSA,” it’s actually pretty simple: it’s because they keep us safe. And I feel like they don’t get enough praise for the things they do. They’ve been there for over 17 years, which is insane. I just love it.

Do you get to talk to the TSA agents whenever you go to the airport?

Yes, but not a lot. But I guess you could say I’m friends with them.

I understand you like writing books. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

I’ve been writing since 5th grade, which is crazy. But now they always revolve around Southwest or take place at the airport. And my friends from Southwest are characters in the book, so that’s cool.

When did you start writing your current book and what made you start?

I’ve been working on it in Creative Writing, and I started it last semester with two other guys. I’m taking over now.

Do you want to get your book published?

Yeah, I’d probably want to do that because I already wrote a whole other story. So it’d be really cool.

Do you think you will always love the airport, even when you are older?

I hope so!