Friday, August 11, 2006

Airline Security Vent, part 27

As you all know I do a fair bit of domestic flying so I have followed this latest revelation and the various government's responses closely. First I will acknowledge the great work done by the various intelligence and security folks around the world who managed to stop this group of 20+ IslamoNazis from blowing up a bunch of jumbo jets full of people. We now believe that at least part of the information used to track this plan down was the President's "terrorist surveillance program", once again proving that the whole kerfuffle over that program should now be officially over. We know that the Pakistan government helped which shows that they at least want us to think they are our allies. This is all goodness and light.

All of that said, what is airline travel going to look like in September or December? At the moment US airlines are not allowing any liquids on the planes and the Brits are not allowing much beyond your wallet and meds to travel with you on the plane. Yep, that's right, if I do a trip to Heathrow tomorrow for business I will have to put my $500 cell phone, my $400 iPod, and my $3000 laptop in the hands of the ever gentile and trustworthy "luggage gorillas" on the way back. Anybody see a little problem with this as a practical matter?

As another bit of info, consider that I rarely check a bag at all. I don't have official statistics but I would guess that on a Monday morning (the height of domestic travel here) well more than half of the travelers have not checked a bag. Do we believe the TSA can magically double or triple the number of checked bags screened and do it well with no notice? Are you serious?

I am not complaining about the now. The security folks are doing the only things they think they can and in the very short term this will be accepted by the traveling public. We will push off the trips we can and hope it doesn't last long. We will bitch in the Admiral's Club and the hotel bar but we will tolerate it...... for a little while.

Let's now compare a round trip flight to Tel Aviv on the world's most terrorist targeted airline to a country in the middle of a shooting war with a simple NY-London business trip. On my return from the war zone I will be allowed to carry my laptop and cell phone, my water bottle and my shaving kit on the plane with me. Furthermore they will HAND me a large sharp metal serrated steak knife to eat my dinner with.

Why? Any smart street cop will tell you that stuff isn't dangerous. Some people are dangerous and when you take away their guns they resort to knives and garottes and kitchen bombs. After seeing no substantial fall in violent crime after being very diligent about their gun bans England is now banning knives. It is insanity if you ask me. You get rid of crime by getting rid of criminals not by getting rid of stuff.

We have to start figuring out who the bad guys are and keeping them off of the planes and let the rest of us do business and pay taxes. The airlines need to rise up and start a marketing campaign that they be allowed to hire private security firms that will handle airport security with TSA oversight and be allowed to do it right. The frustrating thing about all of this is that it isn't a new, unsolved problem. Israel solved decades ago. We and Europeans are just to politically correct and/or stupid to model our airline security program after one that we know works.

There, I feel better.


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