Skip to comments.Ridiculous, ineffective security at airports.
Posted on 11/25/2001 2:21:03 PM PST by Magician
Having just made a round trip by air from CLT to LAX and return, the following is my comment on the ineffective and overly intrusive security one can run into.
The trip west was uneventful. At CLT (Chartlotte) there was a careful screening of carry-on luggage, metal detection and IDs that took only slightly longer than was the case before 9-11.
However, the metal detection and luggage search at LAX for the return flight was both time consuming (almost two hours) and ridiculous. At the metal detection booth, most men were required to remove their shoes (metal grommets for the laces setoff the detectors), and unbuckle their belts.
At the gate, about every tenth person was randomly selected for a "detailed" search of their carry-on luggage. It seemed that most of those selected were elderly grey-haired Americans, both male and female. These were people that one could say with virtually 100 percent assurance were NOT terrorists. Even worse, those doing the searches were the most incompetent people I've ever seen, mostly elderly Minority females who didn't have a clue about how to search luggage.
There was absolutly nothing that I saw being done at either airport that would have stopped the 9-11 type attacks assuming that either the knives would be placed on board by service personel or that the terrorists would have used even a modicum of cleverness in bringing aboard their weapons.
Also, we were not asked to identify our checked luggage to minimize the chance of someone checking a bomb onto the flight and then not boarding the flight. I am also assuming that all checked luggage was not X-rayed or inspected. So their was nothing done to stop a bomb being brought aboard in checked luggage.
I've been through El Al security procedures several times and there is no comparison. First, El Al uses profiling to determine who gets extra attention. They also check out everyone who buys a ticket on the Israeli security database to make sure no one dangerous even gets on board. If you are a West Banker or a Gazan you fly out via Amman or Cairo.
Finally, when luggage is searched, it is done by people who really know what they are doing. They routinely uncover false bottoms and sides used for smuggling (like diamonds from Israel into the U.S.). Every bottle and box is opened and its contents inspected. Also, checked luggage is thoroughly inspected by X-ray and by hand.
Finally, there are armed air marshalls on every flight. About half of the cabin service personnel are military aged males, and they can be seen carrying their pistol cases on board before the flight is loaded.
Our airport security is a deceptive bad joke as it exists now. It does little to solve the very real security problems the airlines face, yet is becoming time consuming (it took longer in LAX than the Israeli boarding procedures) and demeaning, and is targeting mostly people who are not the least bit likely to pose a danger.
I'd have to say that allowing our children to see armed troops in our airports is doing nothing less than prepping them for a police state. I think it's child abuse to the max getting them used to that scenario. (This wasn't directed at you, just wanted to raise the issue.)
I quess now instead of cheap rent a cops, now we'll have the government doing the hiring and hiring people on welfare to get them off of welfare. At least they'll be able to stare at the X-Ray machine monitor. Won't know what to look for but will have plenty of experience looking at the tube.
I ignored her because I wasn't wearing an overcoat and thought she was talking to the guy behind me. Then she got one of her fellow minimum-wage martinets to grab me by the shoulders and turn me rudely around.
When I pointed out it was a sports jacket, not an overcoat, she responded: "When you are being here in my searching station, it is important that you must be knowing what I am understanding to mean." In other words, learn Calcutta English before flying out of New York. She was like Peter Sellers in drag.
Meanwhile, while they snapped the blade off my son's nail clippers, they didn't check either of our bags going into the hold.
The trip back was worse.
A middle-aged nitwit again searched my son while two of her buddies literally took me to pieces.
Yet -- wait for it -- she didn't search my crotch!
I kept saying, why don't you give me a good feel down there. I don't mind. Have a good poke around since you've already turned out the cuffs on my pants. How can you search my socks if you don't search my crotch?" Well, she refused. (Can't say I blame her) But it does make a mockery of the rest of the procedure.
Back at JFK, i went to the confiscated property department to recover the one-inch pocket knife taken from me -- and you should have seen the stuff in the box that had been lifted from other travelers. Tiny little-girl plastic scissors, nail scissors, knitting needles, a hotel giveaway sewing kit, eyebrow tweezers and scores of swiss army knives. There was even a guillotine-style cigar clipper!
When the search was over and I made it home to unpack, guess what? About $200 worth of CDs in a wallet-style traveling case were missing. Including the first "cracker" album, which I was going to play. I suspect one of the McDonald's rejects at tampa forget to put it back after picking through "dangerous" items like hemmeroid creme and a saline nasal spray.
Funniest part was what the Tampa twit kept saying after I told her, without a trace of rancour, that pale pink overweight white guys traveling with their sons don't fit the terrorist profile.
"We can't discriminate," she responded as she squeezed my lapels for godknowswhat. "She must have repeated that 20 times."
This farce has got to stop if the travel business is ever to get back on its feet.
One search, OK? But two was ridiculous. If they checked us on Monday and I was clean, why didn't someone note it in the computer to avoid searching us all over again four days later?
Just too darn sensible, I guess.
Unfortunately, we keep on just playing along with them, pretending they are doing something other than hasseling us. The only real solution (arming crew and passengers) to the problem of hijacking is dismissed out of hand as unworkable, yet the idiots in charge still require that you be asked if someone else packed your luggage.
I'm absolutely disgusted with all of it.
Willy Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, is reported to have said "Because that's where the MONEY is!"
Doing careful searches on grandmothers and pilots in uniform with good ID is a waste of time. In fact, since NONE of the hijackers were white Americans, it is doubtful that searching ME is a productive use of time or effort.
You make a good point about the checked baggage- only about 5% is currently examined (XRAY, etc), and there is NOTHING to keep a baggage handler from planting a device in a bag before it is loaded into the aircraft. This is a very large loophole, and I pray that we don't see a dozen airliners drop out of the sky nearly simultaneously because of it- because I think that is the next step in the terrorists plan. (Note to FBI: I am only guessing, OK? If I KNEW anything, I would have called you by now!)
I would be happy if all Middle Eastern males were checked, for starters. I guess that makes me a bigoted redneck- or a realist. Take your pick.
From a frequent flyer (I fly every week, and I'm not real happy right now...)
On the way back to Burbank from Phoenix, they required my newspaper to be X-rayed.... oh, evil newspaper....
I would almost have paid for the price of a ticket to see you saying that. I think that I would have literally been ROFL to watch it.
I think my flying days are pretty much over, save for the long trip that I may make some day. I can get to Orlando in 9 hours to visit the family, and Cleveland in 9 hours to visit my friends. And, I can take means for self protection with me. And, nobody is going to steal my CD's or nail clippers.
What?? They are headed for big trouble if they keep that up! I sure don't like the idea of ANYONE going thru my handbag/purse - much less out of my line of vision. (Even when you are asked by a policeman, or car inspector to give them your driver's license, they ask you to take it out of your wallet and hand it to them. They don't want to touch your wallet.) The airport and their handlers just might come across someone who says things are missing from their bag after their search. Knowing that this is the procedure - someone could set them up. (Almost wish they would be!)
There are reasonable security measures and unreasonable ones. With the exception of the "security at any cost" crowd, it is the unreasonable measures that generate the complaints and hostility. They are going to become irritating that many will choose not to fly, not because of fear of flying, but because of allergies to pointless bureaucratic BS.
How about if we just have everyone fly naked. This would ease the crowding at the security gates, and would really enhance security.
What would happen if you said that someone else packed your luggage? Or - to the question about the luggage being in your presense at all times --- what if you said 'no'? HeeHee!
You might recall that ALMOST ALL of the flights on 9/11 "landed safely", too. Was that due to wonderful airport security measures?
Or is passenger screening a time and money-wasting farce?
You can't prove a negative. The fact that his plane wasn't hijacked is not evidence that the current security system is effective.
When I flew back to MSP from DFW on 9/14, my plane wasn't hijacked either. I doubt that it had anything to do with the ticketing agent telling me to take the batteries out of my CD player and travel clock (but I could leave both batteries in my laptop), or stopping curbside baggage check in, or closing down hundreds of parking spaces at MSP, or the cursory check of my carry on, they never asked me to turn on the laptop, and on and on and on. All of the new security measures may be prudent, I can see where they can address particular kinds of security threats, primarliy bombs, but they have nothing to do with addressing the type of threat that manifested itself on 9/11. In light of the current threat, the contigency plans seem to be remarakably focused on preventing another Lockerbie incident.
And the rub is that it's going to be difficult to prevent a motivated suicidal maniac who believes that his actions will result in instant martyrdom without getting some poeple's noses out of joint, and engaging in profiling of one form or another. There will always be some way to circumvent security, they just need to figure out where the current system is weak. In the meantime, we're being patted paternally on the head and told that these measures are making us safe. I don't know that they are.
If you're that paranoid, you should just come out and say so...
But by golly, any terrorists at Wal-Mart in the middle of nowhere in North Idaho are in for Big Trouble they try any funny business!
What do you expect? Within a day or two of the resumption of air traffic, the FAA was reminding airports that they could not discriminate in their security efforts.
"At the gate, about every tenth person was randomly selected for a "detailed" search of their carry-on luggage. It seemed that most of those selected were elderly grey-haired Americans, both male and female. These were people that one could say with virtually 100 percent assurance were NOT terrorists."
A TV journalist related an incident on her travels where she was selected for a "random gate search". She said a matronly woman approached her and ASKED if she could do a search. The security person explained that she had to do a certain number of searches and that she had asked this journalist because she seemed nice. One wonders if she would have searched a fierce looking, middle-eastern, young male?
Of course, my favorite incident was when my NG unit returned from an exercise in Korea in 1990. At Anchorage, airport security confiscated our pocket knives. We were flying with weapons. Must have been 300 pistols, rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers laying in the ailes or in the overheads, countless bayonets, etc. The flight crew returned the pocket knives on take-off.
I prefer the El Al theory: profiles make sense.
After all is said and done, this merely degrades respect for the law on the part of the law-abiding. Another step on the route to chaos before we get OUR dictator-in-chief...
The airport terminals had National Guard with M16s. Like they would cut loose with those weapons inside the terminal. The collateral damage would be horrific. They need weapons more suited to up close, minimum penetration scenarios.
All in all, the new security didn't make me feel more secure, just more annoyed and lucky that I wasn't selected for the search. If that's all the government and the airlines are going to do, then I'm not flying as often as I used to. I doubt most people are.