Back on the road and in the skies today. More time for me to appreciate the wonders of air travel, the sturdy beauty of our modern jet aircraft, and the inner workings of airports, with their finely timed dance of baggage handlers, runway workers, and cockpit crews. More time for me to consider just how many people work for the TSA, and how much all of those blue-shirted uniforms and shoulder walkie-talkies cost, anyway. More time for me to appreciate the simple joy of sleeping soundly in my own bed again, with my lovely wife beside me.
Posts Tagged ‘Transportation Security Administration’
Posted in America, Travel, tagged air travel, Airport security, Airport security screenings, airports, America, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Port Columbus, Transportation Security Administration, Travel, TSA on January 23, 2011 | 1 Comment »
This week I was in St. Louis overnight, so I went through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Port Columbus on Thursday and the TSA checkpoint at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Friday. I therefore must ask: why are the checkpoint procedures so different from airport to airport?
In Columbus there are separate lines for “expert travelers,” casual travelers, and families in order to improve the flow through security. In St. Louis everyone gets in the same, slow-moving line. In St. Louis you can’t put your shoes in the plastic tub, you need to put them on the belt separately. In Columbus, shoes can go in the tub with everything else. In some airports you seem to need to hold your boarding pass as you go through the scanner, in others you don’t. In some airports laptops need to be placed in their own bin, in others that is not the case.
Maybe the TSA procedures are ever-changing and that is the reason for the discrepancies, but I doubt it. It seems like every airport has its own special procedures, and I think that is a mistake. The TSA is a federal agency, and as a federal agency should enforce uniform procedures on a nationwide basis. Having different, seemingly weird procedures — like placing your shoes directly on the belt in St. Louis — just slows down the security check-through process. Passengers are already on edge because of the slowness of the process and the prospect of missing their plane, and it just makes them mad when they get yelled at by a TSA officer for not following a completely unknown requirement.
Is it too much to ask for some consistency in what is supposed to be an important security process?
Posted in America, Travel, World, tagged air travel, Airport security, America, Department of Homeland Security, terrorism, Transportation Security Administration, Travel, World on December 27, 2009 | 1 Comment »
The recent story about the failed attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit can’t help but send a collective shudder through the minds of holiday travelers. The would-be terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to detonate some high explosives strapped to his leg. Fortunately, his device failed, and our country was spared the trauma of a Christmas Day attack that likely would have killed hundreds. Credit also should be given to the brave fellow passengers who subdued the terrorist and put out the fire started by his device before he was able to do any further damage.
The terrorist’s backstory is, by now, disturbingly familiar. Abdulmutallab comes from a privileged background and had been living in a fancy apartment and attending college in London. Somewhere, somehow, he was introduced to radical Islamic views, joined al Qaeda, and received the training and device needed to carry out the plot. He became disengaged from his family, which noticed the change in his personality and his religious and political views. Indeed, his own father warned authorities that his son was a potential terrorist. His story should remind all of us that there still are people out there who want to harm the United States and kill innocent Americans and don’t mind dying in the attempt.
This incident should cause the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and other American authorities to immediately revisit and tighten air travel security procedures. Abdulmutallab apparently was on some kind of security watch list. It is mind-boggling that he was able to carry a syringe and some form of high explosives through security. It also appears that no one noticed other telltale signs of potential terrorist activity. Abdulmutallab bought his ticket with cash. Although he supposedly planned a two-week stay in Detroit, he did not check any luggage and had only a carry-on bag. How was this guy not an obvious candidate for a careful physical search before he was allowed to board a plane to the United States?
The next time we travel by plane we no doubt will be inconvenienced by some new security procedures designed to prevent a similar attempt. I don’t mind being inconvenienced if there is a realistic chance that the new procedures will foil the next terrorist plot. And when I am in the TSA line, waiting, I may think of Abdulmutallab and smile at the thought that, when the explosive device strapped to his leg caught fire, he likely was badly burned in some tender areas. Allah must have a sense of humor.