By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The federal government is changing the software on the full-body scanners used…
OTTAWA – The federal government is changing the software on the full-body scanners used to provide security at airports so they no longer produce a complete outline of a traveller’s body.
Transport Canada says the new technology, already in use in the U.S. and the Netherlands, will increase privacy while still ensuring security.
The scanners have been in use at Canadian airports for three years and there now are 52 of the devices installed across the country.
They work by beaming low-level radio frequency energy over and around the passenger’s body.
Instead of a silhouette of a person’s physique, the new software will produced a stick figure on the scanner’s screen and identify areas of the body where objects might be concealed under clothing.
Transport Canada says the scans can identify anomalies on a passenger, including metals and non-metals of all shapes and size; ceramic-type threats such as knives and sharp instruments; liquids and explosives.
The department stressed that the scanner does not collect personal information from the passenger, nor is the image correlated in any way with the name of the passenger or any other identifying information.
Steven Fletcher, minister of state for transport, said the new technology is good news for air travellers.
“This new software will ensure the continued safety and security of Canadian passengers, while respecting their privacy,” he said in a news release.
By Michael Friscolanti - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM - 0 Comments
One very long delay at the airport
If you land on Canada’s “no-fly list,” good luck getting off. Just ask Hani Al Telbani. Five years after the Palestinian immigrant was famously denied a boarding pass at Montreal’s Trudeau airport, he is still fighting in court to clear his name and get on a plane.
Dino Peles is not a member of the no-fly club. But like Telbani, the 31-year-old Air Canada baggage handler has learned the same hard lesson: once Transport Canada declares you a potential danger, it’s almost impossible to change anyone’s mind—criminal record or no criminal record.
Like thousands of airline employees who work in restricted areas, Peles was issued a “transportation security clearance” in 2006 for his job at Toronto’s Pearson airport. But in 2011, when his file was due for a mandatory review, the feds noticed two blemishes, both related to marijuana. (In 2009, police found Peles in a parked car with $2,500 in cash and nearly $5,000 worth of weed; eight months later, authorities again charged him with possession for the purpose of trafficking after finding more illicit drugs in his vehicle.)
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 9:15 PM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Box-cutters and razor blades are still out, but the all-Canadian hockey stick…
WASHINGTON – Box-cutters and razor blades are still out, but the all-Canadian hockey stick will now be allowed into American airline cabins for the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The announcement by the Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday is sure to make Canadian hockey players envious given hockey sticks aren’t allowed in cabins north of the border.
Transport Canada considers hockey sticks “blunt objects” that could be used to cause serious injury, and has no immediate plans to rethink that classification.
The U.S., apparently, shares no such concerns. As of April 25th, American hockey players can haul their sticks aboard under new rules announced Tuesday by John Pistole, head of the TSA, at a travel security conference in New York.
The sticks are in good, if somewhat ominous, company. Under the updated rules, intended to conform with European Union regulations, the TSA will also allow golf clubs, ski poles and small knives — with blades no longer than six centimetres — into airline cabins.
The TSA says that armed pilots, federal air marshals and airline crew members trained in self-defence would provide ample security to protect passengers against anyone who might go on a cross-checking rampage mid-flight.
Flight attendants, however, are aghast, particularly at the notion of knives in the cabin.
“Today’s announcement to permit knives back into the aircraft cabin is a poor and shortsighted decision by the TSA,” the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, with nearly 90,000 members, said in a statement.
“As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure.”
Stacy Martin, president of Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants union, Transport Workers Union of America Local 556, called the decision “outrageous.”
“This policy was designed to make the lives of TSA staff easier, but not make flights safer,” Martin said.
“While we agree that a passenger wielding a small knife or swinging a golf club or hockey stick poses less of a threat to the pilot locked in the cockpit, these are real threats to passengers and flight attendants in the passenger cabin.”
By Emily Senger - Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 8:36 AM - 0 Comments
Star couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian is in the hot seat after the…
Star couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian is in the hot seat after the pair reportedly skipped an airport security line in New York’s JFK airport to catch a connecting flight.
According to reports in both the New York Post and the New York Daily News, the celebrities were returning from Carnival celebrations in Brazil and were trying to catch a connecting American Airlines flight to Los Angeles. A Transportation Security Administration spokesperson said an airline staff member took the VIPs “through a non-public area in order to provide expedited access to their domestic flight.”
The two made their flight but, when another employee discovered West and Kardashian had not been screened, they were made to disembark the plane for a screening. Meanwhile, a plane full of passengers was delayed for an hour, the reports say.
The Transportation Security Administration is looking into the violation of protocol, said a spokesperson.
By Emily Senger - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:51 AM - 0 Comments
Heads appear to be ‘legitimate medical specimens,’ says Homeland Security
A shipment of 18 human heads bound for research use in the United States has created quite the buzz after it was held up by customs at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, the heads were coming from Rome in December and were destined for a research facility in Chicago when that facility was flagged for investigation for an unknown reason, which is not connected to the shipment of heads.
The heads were initially discovered when there was a problem with the accompanying paperwork and employees at the airport used an X-ray to look inside the blue coolers that the embalmed heads were shipped in, says the Chicago Tribune.
The heads appear to be “legitimate medical specimens,” reports NBC Chicago.
While this finding may seem strange, shipments of body parts for medical research aren’t all that uncommon, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the Sun-Times. “Everybody here is ‘Oh my gosh, you got a box of heads’ and everybody thinks that it’s unheard of,” he said. “It is a potentially legitimate medical shipment. We’ve seen it at various ports in the nation.”
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:02 AM - 0 Comments
The former head of U.S. airport security is calling for an end to the check-in nightmare
Line up. Liquids in a baggie. Toss your water. Wait. Stuff your jacket in a bin. Empty your pockets. Take off your belt. Wait some more. Walk through slowly. Raise your arms. Stand still.
Is there any modern activity more frustrating, time-consuming and humiliating than the airport security line? Improved vigilance against terrorism may be a necessity in our post-9/11 world. But does it have to be so awkward? And is that bottle of water really a threat to global security?
In what might be considered a welcome breath of fresh air for air travellers, the former head of U.S. airport security is calling for an end to many of the most outrageous and bothersome aspects of airport check-in: liquid of all sizes should be allowed as carry-on, bans on non-weapons such as lighters should be relaxed and, in the name of improved security, airlines should be forbidden from charging checked baggage fees. Could it really be possible to fly like it’s 1999?
Kip Hawley was administrator of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from 2005 to 2009. During that time he was responsible for many of the decisions that turned air travel into such a grind, including restrictions on liquids. And that made him a frequent target of public outrage. In 2006, a Milwaukee man was detained by TSA staff when he wrote “Kip Hawley is an idiot” on the baggie holding his miniature vials of liquids at a security check. Hawley now appears to be trying to make amends.
Hawley’s new book Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security, released this week, provides an insider’s perspective on how to make airport security a less irritating experience without increasing overall risk. Given the high degree of co-operation between the TSA and the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority, what Hawley says should resonate with put-upon Canadian flyers as well.
His most refreshing idea: allow passengers to bring liquids of all sizes in their carry-on luggage. Carry-on liquids and gels are currently limited to 100 ml in Canada and the U.S. But Hawley reports that airport scanners now have the ability to determine if a liquid is an explosive. He suggests specially designated lanes for passengers with “snow globes, beauty products, booze” or any other fluids they might wish to carry on. If you’d rather not buy a microscopic flask of mouthwash for every trip, you could simply pick the “liquids lane” at pre-boarding and bring your bottle from home.
Airline baggage fees should be outlawed as an impediment to security, argues Hawley. Charging for each piece of checked luggage has become commonplace among airlines eager for extra revenue. But this measure encourages passengers to stuff as much as physically possible into their carry-on bags, which are still free. This inevitably slows down pre-boarding inspections. While airlines would have to find other ways to squeeze money out of travellers, the result would be quicker and more thorough inspections.
And Hawley would eliminate the list of forbidden items, beyond the most obvious weapons such as knives and bombs. “Banning certain items gives terrorists a complete list of what not to use in their next attack,” he explains in a recent Wall Street Journal column promoting his book. “Lighters are banned? The next attack will use an electric trigger.” Both the Shoe Bomber and Underwear Bomber provide evidence of evolving terrorist ingenuity.
Finally, Hawley suggests wholesale reform of the philosophy behind airport security. Instead of rigid protocols, he would give individual officers greater flexibility and discretion to search for possible threats. He would also randomize detailed inspections and institute more interviews to keep terrorists off-balance.
Savvy travellers will recognize Hawley’s last point as a modified version of the vaunted Israeli approach to air terrorism, which focuses on the risk posed by individual ticket holders through targeted behaviour recognition. The North American method of obsessing over each and every bag for potential terrorism paraphernalia, on the other hand, wastes everyone’s time equally. While this may strike some as equitable, it’s wholly illogical and represents a vast waste of resources. It’s also worth noting that both the Shoe and Underwear Bombers were thwarted, not by security measures, but by the courageous and spontaneous reactions of passengers and crew. “In attempting to eliminate all risk from flying, we have made air travel an unending nightmare,” says Hawley. “Terrorists are adaptive, we need to be adaptive too.”
Without much difﬁculty, and without endangering security, we could return air travel to the modestly pleasurable activity it was 20 years ago. But getting there will require a whole new way of thinking about airport security.
By macleans.ca - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 13 Comments
Change means Canadian rules are consistent with those in U.S., Europe
The federal government announced Thursday that Canadians will once again be allowed to board flights while carrying small manicure scissors and eyeglass repair kits. The previously banned items were taken off the restricted list as part of a shift in focus toward bigger security threats, such as bombs. “We’re trying to strike that balance between security and safety and convenience for travellers,” Transport Minister Chuck Strahl said. The changes could also cut wait times at airports by as much as 30 per cent according to officials. The decision to allow small scissors and tools brings Canadian rules in line with those of the U.S. and European countries.
By macleans.ca - Friday, January 28, 2011 at 2:47 PM - 17 Comments
$300 figurine “a threat to security”: Gatwick Airport
A Canadian tourist leaving Gatwick Airport in England says a toy-sized solider figurine was taken away from her by security because it featured a 10-cm-long replica rifle. “They told me it was a gun and that I was not allowed to take it on the plane,” Julie Lloyd, a 60-year-old Oakville, Ont. woman told the National Post. A security supervisor concurred that it was a threat and suggested she mail the $300 souvenir back to Canada instead. When the slit in the airport’s post boxes proved too small for the parcel, one of the security officials offered to mail it from a post office later in the day. She accepted, but is now calling for better training of airport staff.
By macleans.ca - Friday, January 14, 2011 at 5:22 PM - 39 Comments
Breast cancer survivor felt “humiliated”
An 82-year-old woman from B.C. was in tears after an airport official in Calgary made her reveal her fake breast, which she had made after she lost one to breast cancer. An airport scanner detected Elizabeth Strecker’s gel prosthesis and an agent forced to lift her arm for a pat down, which caused her physical pain. The incident also caused Strecker emotional pain and embarrassment, she says. She is seeking an official apology. Transport minister Chuck Strahl said that airport security must treat travelers with respect.
By Paul Wells - Friday, November 26, 2010 at 8:28 AM - 90 Comments
What an excellent column in this morning’s New York Times by Roger Cohen, the paper’s only foreign-affairs columnist who can still surprise readers with his choice of topic or improve their day with the elegance of his prose. (Was that a dig at the others? Why yes it was.) The topic is airport scanners and pat-downs. Cohen makes his own points best, but to sum up, he says they’re (1) humiliating; (2) counterproductive; (3) precisely what the terrorists wanted, beyond the immediate slaughter: to hobble the enemy for the very long term.
There’s been a debate around Ottawa about whether Michael Ignatieff was serious this week when he was scrummed about these issues. All I know is, he missed a chance to make these arguments, so by my lights he was about as serious as John Baird ever gets.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 4:54 PM - 139 Comments
Michael Ignatieff, asked by a reporter after QP today to comment on recent concerns about airport security.
If you’re in my business, you live in an airport. And so I have people touching my private parts all day long.
By Colby Cosh - Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 10:36 PM - 28 Comments
“We’re taking the fight to the terrorists abroad, so we don’t have to face them here at home.” President George W. Bush, June 9, 2005. Of all the nose-stretchers W ever told, this one rings the most hollow in 2010, with American air travellers said to be in a state of “revolt” against the system of industrialized sexual assault that has been implemented in their airports. The more the United States takes the fight to the terrorists abroad, the hotter the war being raged against the travelling civilian by the Transportation Security Administration. Not so long ago, there ran a common, bitter joke that we would all one day have to fly naked. Anybody laughing at that one now?
The term “revolt” is not exactly freighted with the violent overtones it once was. The most radical of the revolutionaries who have captured the American imagination in recent weeks is a fellow named John Tyner, whose blow for liberty took the form of refusing to submit to either being photographed in the nude or subjected to an “enhanced” groping, and then, most treacherously of all, leaving the “security area” of the airport without permission—a federal offence that could see him fined up to $11,000. He didn’t black the eye or batter the groin of any TSA personnel, and he certainly didn’t barrage Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano with rotten eggs and filth.
There is probably no sense blaming the employees of the TSA, although if we’re really talking with “revolt” as our underlying moral premise, not being blameworthy doesn’t mean you are not an appropriate target of abuse. The airport rage of Americans is being fuelled by legitimately illogical, cruel, dumbass moves by frontline TSA workers—errors that, for the most part, represent the inflexible application of rules in situations that either (1) were not anticipated, (2) do not arise often enough to be covered in training, or (3) simply aren’t amenable to handling according to a script or a 20-word official doctrine.
In other words, America is keeping its airports safe the way it builds its cars and fights its wars: on the assembly-line model. It has been presented with an enormous responsibility to create safety, or the appearance of safety, over a huge universe of flights and passengers; it probably cannot, unlike Israel, approach this problem by training a small corps of intelligent persons and leaving them free to improvise, applying general principles using nuance and extensive local knowledge.
Given that merely living with the threat level we were all exposed to without much complaint in the 1980s is no longer an option, the Republic has to break down the great task of making-safe into small chunks that can be taught to people with IQs of 85—and taught by people with IQs of 105. The U.S. Army helped liberate Europe, a couple of times over, by means of the same industrial methods. (There’s a reason that in both the British-Canadian fighter and bomber commands during the Second World War, pilots and other crew who displayed particular talent were made instructors very quickly; not infrequently they became instructors of instructors.)
But generals and factory owners have continuous Darwinian pressure helping them with the organizing of human capital. Airport security officers aren’t easy to evaluate, even collectively—we don’t know how much value there is in having a TSA at all. Individually, the workers are like the household tiger repellent in the old joke. Are they of any use? Well, when was the last time you saw any tigers around here?
Without competitive pressure, any industrial apparatus becomes increasingly bloated and clumsy. The market for subsidized tiger repellent is potentially unlimited. TSA is going to get worse before it gets better—especially with new arbitrary prohibitions being fed into the system every time there’s a failed terrorist attack.
By Bruce Parkinson, Takeoffeh.com - Friday, May 21, 2010 at 12:22 PM - 0 Comments
Watch What You Tweet: Hotels Are Watching You, Airport Security: Free Flow For Liquid Rules, and Canucks Just Wanna Earn Points
Watch What You Tweet: Hotels Are Watching You
Are you one of the millions of travellers who review hotels following your stay, offering bouquets or brickbats when deserved? If you are, it may be prudent not to reveal too much personal information. According to travel columnist Christopher Elliott, hotels are tracking down who you are, especially if you’re reviewing them anonymously. Industry consultant John Baird says some hoteliers are going to great lengths to deduce a guest’s identity and either contact them directly or note the guest’s review in their guest database. Elliott says guests who write a positive review might receive a reward from the hotel — a gift basket, perhaps, or a discount on a future stay. But those who criticize a property could receive a concerned e-mail from the general manager asking them to reconsider their comments. Some fear their comments could be used against them by marking them as a ‘problem guest.’ Baird points out that most hotels want the information for the right reasons: either to say thanks for a nice review or to reach out to a negative guest to patch things up. Just in case though, Elliott recommends not using your real name, avoiding posting your geographical location and ensuring your online handle doesn’t give away your identity.
Airport Security: Free Flow For Liquid Rules
While travellers are sick and tired of security screening rules, it seems like security authorities are too. Reports from the U.S. suggest strict rules on liquids in air travellers’ baggage are no longer being enthusiastically enforced. “The Transportation Security Administration’s unpopular restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on luggage are history,” MSNBC columnist and travel ombudsman Christopher Elliott wrote recently. There have been no official pronouncements, but Elliott says extensive feedback from readers indicates the TSA has all but stopped screening carry-on bags for liquids. “(Readers) say transportation security officers no longer ask them to remove lotions, shampoos and even water bottles from their luggage, and overlook all manner of liquids packed in their carry-ons during screening,” Elliott writes. According to the TSA, however, nothing has changed. “The policy continues to be enforced, although it is important to note that we empower our workforce with discretion,” a spokesperson told Elliott. Several Canadian frequent travellers canvassed by TakeOffeh report little change in the way rules are being enforced here, although some have also seen incidents when officials displayed ‘discretion.’
Canucks Just Wanna Earn Points
According to a 2009 study, the average Canadian household uses nine different loyalty programs – 50 per cent more than our American neighbours. In a recent Globe and Mail article Bert Archer suggests the phenomenon may stem from our history as “an immigrant nation of bargain hunters averse to debt and big on nest eggs.” He points to Canadian Tire money launched 50 years ago – nearly 90% of those bills still find their way back to the store. Best Western’s Dorothy Dowling told TakeOffeh “Canadians are the biggest point junkies in the world.” While Best Western operates 4,000 hotels in some 80 countries, the 1 million Canadian members of their reward program make up a disproportionate 10% of the global total. “Loyalty has become even more important than in the past,” says Dowling. “We had double-digit growth in all measures last year. Membership was up 25% and our members cashed in 32% more reward nights than the year before.” Dowling says reward aficionados have grown quite savvy in understanding the relative currency of reward points, especially we frugal Canadians.
Porter Airlines IPO Now Boarding At Gate 3
When an initial public offering (IPO) is put forward there are two audiences. One is the retail investor – average folks buying stocks. The other is the institutional investor – organizations which pool money and invest it. In the case of Porter Airlines, currently preparing for its IPO coming-out party, the Globe and Mail likens retail investors to those passengers who line up early to get their seat on a flight, and institutional investors to those who hang out in the bar until the last boarding call. Retail investors are excited about investing in Porter, attracted by the airline’s positive reputation and ‘underdog’ status. But institutional investors are taking a different tack, hanging back while hoping to pressure Porter to issue the offering at the low-end of the projected $6-$7 per share price. They hope to exploit a weak market to get their piece of Porter at the best possible price. It remains to be seen which way the pendulum will swing, but many of the comments on the Globe article were cynical, including one from ‘pilotguy,’ who wrote: “Best way to make a hundred bucks in the airline biz? Start with $1000…”
By: Bruce Parkinson
Bruce Parkinson is a travel industry journalist and regular contributor to Takeoffeh.com as well as sister company, OpenJaw.com
Photo Credits:laflor, sjlocke, Pgiam, flyporter.com
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 1:23 PM - 49 Comments
The Liberals sent Wayne Easter up yesterday to berate Jean-Pierre Blackburn for whatever it is that happened awhile back with the Veteran Affairs Minister and his tequila. The Conservatives permitted Mr. Blackburn to respond for himself. His two responses were as follows.
Mr. Speaker, I was at the airport a month ago. We had forgotten that there was a bottle of alcohol in our carry-on luggage. Of course, the bottle was confiscated by the security officials. I never asked for any preferential treatment whatsoever. I remained polite at the airport at all times. The security officials did their job and I respected their decision.
Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat that I did not ask for any preferential treatment whatsoever. I just would not do that. I repeat that I apologize to anyone I may have offended.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 19, 2010 at 12:23 PM - 62 Comments
For those needing closure, the Veterans Affairs Minister issues the following statement.
On February 23 I was at the Ottawa airport and a bottle of alcohol was confiscated from me because it exceeded the 100 ml limit.
Since I had to leave the bottle behind, I asked that it be destroyed.
At no point did I request preferential treatment; it’s not in my nature.
Granted, I was definitely upset at what happened, and I apologize to those I could have offended.
That being said, the rule is clear.
The officers applied the rule.
And I complied unequivocally.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 10:46 PM - 53 Comments
Late breaking news this evening that the Veteran Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn recently demonstrated an interest in airport security protocol.
Blackburn wanted to bypass a rule that all Canadians must follow: You cannot pack containers filled with more than 100 millilitres of liquid. When security at the Ottawa airport told Blackburn he would have to give up his bottle of tequila, sources say he asked that the bottle be kept for him. When security refused, he demanded that they empty the bottle in his presence. Sources told CTV News the argument became so heated, security almost called the police…
“The minister wasn’t pleased by the fact he had to leave the bottle of alcohol behind. He was upset that they wouldn’t destroy it in front of him,” the official said, on condition of anonymity. “He remained polite. He didn’t pull a Helena apparently.”
By macleans.ca - Monday, January 11, 2010 at 4:35 PM - 59 Comments
By Bruce Parkinson, Takeoffeh.com - Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 11:08 AM - 3 Comments
The Bottom Line On The Latest Measures
The attempted terror attack on Christmas Day has had a significant impact on air travel for Canadians. TakeOffeh.com has compiled a rundown on the current situation along with opinions from airline security experts on how it is being handled.
The repercussions of the so-called ‘underwear-bomber’ are being felt in Canada more than anywhere else in the world. That’s because more people fly from Canada to the U.S. than from any other country. Although being characterized as “temporary”, the recent security restrictions are having a major impact. Canadian airports are experiencing among the worst delays in the world, especially at Toronto’s Pearson International. Some observers are calling the ban on carry-on and pat-down searches, which take up to five minutes per passenger, “security theatre”.
According the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, the security directive to airlines and airports was set to expire on Tuesday night, December 29th, but it has been extended as the agency seeks to further refine it. A new directive will be issued by Wednesday midnight, the TSA has said.
Here is the most recent security advisory from Transport Canada:
“Effective immediately, U.S. bound passengers are not allowed to bring carry-on bags into the cabin of the aircraft, with some exceptions. Passengers may carry with them the following items:
- medication or medical devices, crutches, canes, walkers, containers carrying life sustaining items, special needs items and items for care of infants
- small purses, laptop computers, cameras, coats
- musical instruments, diplomatic or consular bags.
Additional searches of passengers and their exempted items will continue. Delays can be expected so passengers are advised to arrive at the airport three hours in advance of their scheduled flight.”
The Transport Canada security advisory does not mention any inflight restrictions, but an advisory from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration describes what passengers may expect:
“During flight, passengers may be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight.”
What To Expect When Flying Back From The U.S.
The U.S. is purposely varying security measures by day and by airport, with the assumed goal of keeping potential threats off-balance.
Currently, U.S. officials are telling Canada-bound passengers they don’t need to do anything different to prepare for airport security and carry-on bags are not being restricted. Nonetheless, passengers are being encouraged to arrive earlier than usual for their flight.
Enhanced Protection Or Security Theatre? The Pundits Weigh In
In the nearly 10 years since 9/11, a debate has raged over the most effective methods to deter or intercept would-be airline terrorists. Many have argued that onerous post 9/11 security measures represent nothing more than show and do little to reduce the actual risk. This view suggests that more money should be invested in foreign intelligence in identifying potential threats rather than inconveniencing millions of air travellers.
Aviation consultant, Robert Mann was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying : “We need to fight them not at the airport, not in an aircraft, but in places where these would-be harm-doers are developing their ideas and fermenting their plans. We’re focused on fighting the last battle, not the next one.”
Security Analyst Bruce Schneier, agrees. In his blog he comments, “I’ve started to call the bizarre new TSA rules “magical thinking”: if we somehow protect against the specific tactic of the previous terrorist, we make ourselves safe from the next terrorist.”
There is no doubt, however, that technology will continue to play an important role in airport security. The Dutch announced today that they will immediately begin using the controversial full body scanners to screen all U.S.-bound passengers. A manufacturer of the backscatter x-ray machines (often dubbed a virtual strip-search) says the machine would have revealed the explosive device hidden in the undergarments of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Needless to say, the process raises many privacy issues.
The Travel Insider’s David Rowell provides an interesting analysis of the overall security and flying predicament: “Let’s put this all into perspective. According to this article, in the last ten years (including 9/11) there have been a mere six notable airborne terror attempts involving flights to, from, or within the US. This means you have one chance in 16.5 million of being on a problem flight, which also means you’ll encounter one terrorist event per 3,105 years of continual flying. Your next flight will probably be as safe for you as all the flights you’ve flown to date. But it may be a whole lot less pleasant.”
Bruce Parkinson is a travel industry journalist and regular contributor to TakeOffeh.com as well as sister company, OpenJaw.com
Photo Credits: Terraxplorer, mr_morton
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 13, 2009 at 7:12 PM - 22 Comments
CTV’s Tom Clark has some questions for John Baird. Hilarity ensues.