Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | January 7, 2010

New Airline Security: The Right Path?


After the failed underwear bomb attempt came to light last Christmas, the US government has decided to tighten security at local airports and also on US-bound international flights. There’s talk of pat-downs, full body scans and further in-flight restrictions like being unable to wear a blanket or use the rest room during the last hour of certain trips (hopefully short commuter hops won’t be afflicted).

What outrages me about these new implementations is the fact that these came to be not because security at a given airport was lax – they came as a reaction to something that could have easily been avoided if the system had worked: after all, not only did Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s family inform US authorities about him being a threat, but Abdulmutallab’s actions – buying a one-way trip with cash, for instance – should have raised some red flags.

Even the President himself admitted that the administration flubbed. Now, instead of overhauling the system and booting those responsible for the failure, the TSA is vamping up security in a manner that arguably goes against travelers’ individual rights (one right-wing blogger actually wrote ‘flying is not a right’ – what world is this individual living in?).

Amazingly, few are complaining. After all, who wants to be blown up to bits in mid-air? However, if the TSA followed Israeli El Al Airlines’ lead, the threat of having potential terrorists on board would be greatly reduced. Their security measures include an interview with each passenger and individual screening of all checked bags. In addition, armed undercover air marshals often travel on the planes when flying to or from a country that might be considered a threat. So far, those measures – which are far less intrusive than full-body scans or x-rays – has worked quite well, as there have been no incidents on the airline’s planes for over thirty years.

Unfortunately, the spectre of ‘political correctness’ does not allow the TSA of copying El Al’s formula, so now many of us will have our bodily contours seen by strangers on X-ray machines that, if abused, might become a peeping Tom’s (or Jane’s) paradise.

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