Airline security: dress for easy access
Obviously, the screening of airline passengers was not adequate at both Boston Logan and Dulles Airports on September 11, 2002. Nineteen Arab males between the ages of 19 and 40 were allowed to board airliners armed with the box cutters that they used to wound, terrorize and subdue four aircrews into submission.
So, how has airline security changed since 9/11? It has gotten worse, not better And, to convince the public that they are doing their screening jobs, the screeners have now overreacted to the point that they are literally driving many of the airlines into bankruptcy.
The next time that you are going through the initial screening process or are in the boarding area where additional security checks are made, just watch what happens around you.
In the initial screening process, a certain percentage of passengers are selected to remove their shoes, and have their carry-on bags subjected to a 100-percent physical search. Extra screening is based on a numerical quota system. It has nothing to do with ethnic background. If the system happens to intercept an Arab male between the ages of 19 and 40 for extra screening, that is purely happenstance.
Recently, I was in line behind an Arab male who exactly matched the “profile” of the September 11th terrorists. He must have been number nine and I was number ten because he went on through and I was subjected to the 100-percent screening.
Later, when I got to the boarding area, I was selected again for 100-percent screening. Apparently, they have no system to prevent this wasteful double screening. In business, this is called an opportunity cost. My second screening could and should have been applied to someone else.
But wait. It gets worse. The selection of those to be screened in the boarding area is not done on a mathematical basis the way it is done in the initial screening area. Selection is entirely up to the person or persons doing the screening. Guess who they select for this screening? They look for people who will be compliant and not complain about the inconvenience of being screened.
Honest to gosh, they look for males who look like they are the presidents of their local civic club or blue-eyed blond soccer mom’s who look like they bake cookies for PTA meetings. This observer has never, ever seen them select a person of color and especially someone who looks like they might be Arab or come from some Middle Eastern country.
I have been screened in the boarding area so many times that I think it is because I wear a bush jacket with pilot wings on the breast pocket. The pilot wings, the Rolex™ pilot’s watch, the badge showing that I hold a world aviation speed record suggest to the screener that I am a person who, as a stakeholder in the world of aviation, will understand the need for screening and will not give them any lip – which I don’t.
On a recent roundtrip to from Denver to Oklahoma City, Wonder Wife, who looks is the spitting image of a blue-eyed Swede (she actually does bake cookies for all kinds of charitable events), was subjected to the 100-percent screening four times: initial screening and boarding areas in Denver and initial screening and boarding areas in Oklahoma City. Why? Because Wonder Wife projects an open, cooperative spirit that lets the screeners know that she is more likely to give them a hug for their efforts than a complaint.
In other words, the screening system has been turned on its head in such a way that it virtually ensures that those who are least likely to cause harm in the air are screened and those who are most likely to cause harm are never screened.
But I figured out how to avoid screening. I no longer wear my pilot garb. In fact, I haven’t been screened once since I started wearing a burnoose.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about a terrorist attack on American soil.
©2002. William Hamilton.