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September 15, 2006
Airport Security Oversights
From The Onion.
Posted on September 15, 2006 at 10:11 AM
• 15 Comments
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For a parody newspaper, the Onion gets it spot-on way too often.
Sometimes reality can be funnier than humour,
Two teanagers (14 and 15) without any kind of documentation made it to a departure lounge at Newcastle International Airport (UK) to do a bit of shop liffting (store theft)...
They where caught because they where inept at shopliffting and a shop worker raised the alert.
Read a little more,
I'm with Michael. Kinda lame, actually.
My flights this week reinforced my belief that these bans and tests are ineffective:
In both directions, security only scanned the first laptop I unpacked; the second one didn't have to be scanned.
I'm glad that airports only scan a sample, but when their sampling methodology is so blatantly obvious, how can it be effective?
I flew a trip out of Brussels a few weeks ago. There, a flight crew member may take one sandwich through the employee screening area, but not two. A sandwich cut in half is considered two sandwiches. One of the two must be either tossed in the trash or eaten before proceeding to the aircraft. No consideration of liquids, gels or electronics, only the number of sandwiches. Since I could never eat two sandwiches...this wasn't much or a problem for me and we all felt much safer during our flight home.
Two weeks ago I was flying from Gatwick to pick up my 8 y.o. from granny.
I wanted only take hand luggage but unfortunately my backpack was nearly twice the width of the new allowance (30 cm instead of 16). At the check-in desk I managed to talk the girl into letting me on but she told me that "you can try but security will send you back and you have to queue again". As I was happy with this she let me go (I thought if there is a problem with the size I just take out all the t-shirts and put them on as well as the socks and underwear, there is no limit on the amount of clothes you can wear :-) ).
Before the security check I took my notebook out of the backpack (if I have to squash the bag into a wooden box to measure it, I don't want the notebook in it).
Before the check there was a young lad with two bags who was collecting lipsticks and lighters. I made some jokes with him about the explosives in the lipsticks and harrased the ladies nearby about the mistake of putting on eye-mascara before flying, but made sure that he doesn't see the size of my bag.
At the control everybody took off their belts, shoes etc, and put them into the x-ray. I decided that I will do it only if asked. Guess what, nobody complained about me not being undressed and they didn't mind the size of my bag.
To make it even worse I had the following items on me: deo, electric shawer (lots of wires inside), laptop, mobile phone, extra batteries, remote control (on my car-keys), a small (metal-lined) bag with some white-yellowish powder (my spoiled child wanted some pasta with cheese the way mummy does it), a plastic container with metal lid (cheese sauce written all over it), some plastic wrapped sausages (she loves frankfurters from sainbury's) with very suspicious sauce in the bags (yes she is spoiled :-)).
Quite interresting, that nobody questioned me about them :-o
So if you're a terrorist, just do as you're asked, but nothing more, and you can take on board whatever you want.
So much about how much this kind of "security" is worth.
In the departure lounge at Stansted yesterday I asked for a copy of "The Dangerous Book for Boys" in WHSmiths. The worrying part was the little voice in my head warning me that just asking for such a dangerous-sounding title was liable to bring the entire weight of the SAS and Special Branch down on my head.
Four days after 9/11, I flew to Dublin and back to Switzerland, via Frankfurt. At the screening in Dublin for the outgoing flight, an elderly lady in front of me had to say good-bye to her nail-clipper. I passed, my backpack screened, when it dawned on me that for the whole trip, I had my multitool (something like on http://www.victorinox.ch/index.cfm?... ) in the backpack.
At that time, I had passed three times in three days screening of my carry-on luggage, without anybody noticing that thing.
Since then, I have lost all confidence in effectiveness of any "security measures" of that kind.
I think what Bruce has labeled "security theater" rightly points out that such measures only will affect sloppy or poorly planned attacks.
That said, some level of minimal security should be applied. We used to ban knives and the 9/11 hijackers used boxcutters. That doesn't mean you throw up your hands. There's nothing wrong with saying, "Based on this new form of suicide hijacking, we're going to cut out big pairs of scissors and boxcutters and so on, too. These weapons can be used to take over a plane, which is then used as a weapon." The old line of "not negotiating with terrorists" doesn't work anymore when they don't plan to negotiate in the first place.
So the ban on liquids is getting tired and pointless. But the ban on large knives and scissors (not dealing with shaving razors and the like, which seem like pointless inclusions)? Yes they are getting through, but that is as much a fault of people flying.
I recently flew cross country from Philadelphia airport, and a couple smuggled about a large pair of scissors so the woman could do some form of knitting or sewing. Pins, needles... I don't care, but these things were monsters. And why should anyone believe the rules don't apply to them? She spent the whole flight hiding them under her leg and in the seat pocket. I know, I know, she wasn't a terrorist... but why should that really matter? We're talking about someone who just doesn't care about following rules.
Look, I think the liquid ban is pointless but I didn't smuggle aboard a soda. I'll be vocal about my opinion that the near-term usefulness of such a ban has passed, but that doesn't mean I have to willfully violate it. We're not talking about cherished freedoms to drink a soda I brought on board a plane. I can't bring that same soda into many theme parks and movie theaters, either.
I was very disappointed in the general principle that this person just felt she was above the rules. I know, I know... there were no terrorists on the plane... if the same sort of terrorists even exist anymore... but what if she wanted to bring her firearm aboard because it was a gift or heirloom and didn't trust the check-in procedure? There's really no difference between the two. It's a person not caring about the rules and believing they are better than them.
Good on grandma. Stupid rules are meant to be ignored. To not do so makes you a sheep.
I have actually been checking my laptop in the on the last 4 flights I took. I was concerned about how safe it would be out of my possession, and I previously used to use my laptop on flight to pass the time away, especially on long flights. Now, I did recently install StompSoft's Digital Vaulthttp://www.stompsoft.com/digital-vault.html so that my computer files and important information would not be accessible to any curious airline workers.
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