For her flight to LA on Sunday, Dianne Duncan arrived at the airport in Toronto at 9:30 a.m., but didn't reach the screening area until nearly seven hours later. "It was extremely strict," Duncan tells the Times. "There was no toilet, no water and no food for purchase. There was one man to screen the men, and one woman to screen the women. There was a full pat-down." (Her 5-year-old daughter was not exempt from the full pat-down.) Duncan's experience is emblematic of how miserable air travel has become for some in the wake of the failed Northwest Airlines flight 253 bombing, and yet others reported a relatively "normal" experience.

President Obama has promised to tighten up aviation security, but there is currently some confusion over how widely the strict new security rules are being enforced. Two unidentified airline officials tell the Associated Press that in-flight security rules have been eased after a two-day clampdown, and passengers can once again have blankies, books, and other items on their laps, or use the bathroom during the last hour of flight. But the TSA has not made any official announcement about easing the restrictions, in part so that terrorists do not know what to expect.

Of course, the sudden unpredictability in airplane security theater makes some people very uncomfortable, and evokes the Joker's little aphorism in The Dark Knight: "Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying." Poor flier Sherri Hammer made a point of using the bathroom early in her flight from Phoenix to Pittsburgh yesterday, but then passengers were allowed to move about during the last hour. "I just wish they’d have something, a list of rules, and stick to it,"she tells the Times.

Others are learning to adapt. On James Van Dellen's flight from Mexico to Phoenix, he snapped this photo of "20 people lining up like kindergartners to pee and freshen up" before the last hour lockdown. "I say kindergartners because on this flight, (inbound from Mexico) the FAs actually encouraged us to 'make things go quickly,'—as there was still a line down to the exit rows approaching the one hour cutoff," writes Van Dellen. "Lucky me in the back row."

"The real problem here is that, tomorrow, if someone tried to detonate a bomb on a plane and, right before he detonated it, he sang, 'Mary Had a Little Lamb,' the TSA would issue a rule tomorrow saying, 'No singing on a plane,'" observes CBS News travel correspondent Peter Greenberg. "It is a very bad camouflage attempt of not dealing with the real issue of how did this guy clear security in Nigeria and twice in Amsterdam, and still get on the plane?"

Some fliers described the situation at NYC airports yesterday as "absolute chaos." Park Slope student Sam Lazarus tells the Post, "I got patted down, and it's too personal! They really go for your personal areas." And Chris Milo, a "recording artist" from Williamsburg who flew from Lisbon to Newark, knows how to get his name in the paper: "Just when we thought we were getting past the shoe-bomber guy, this jerk comes along and makes flying awful again. I was watching a movie and they made me turn it off in the middle. The only thing that's left now is for everyone to get a full cavity search."