I’m not exactly sure when terrorist phobia started becoming part of the general aviation landscape, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with 9/11. A prime example of how the few bad eggs can spoil it all for the rest of us.
The US, with its finite wisdom, has managed to spread most of its paranoia to the rest of the world, and it seems that nations are not only eating it up with large dessert spoons, they are asking for seconds.
Fear, uncertainly and doubt (FUD) are constantly being fed to societies to quash any resistance or independent thought, for that matter. We’re still waiting to see any evidence of those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
But let’s not dwell on conspiracy theories or start pointing fingers at who’s to blame for the mess. What I’m curious about is why there isn’t any consistency is the airline and airport experience, from a passengers perspective, as they deal with the countless interpretations of airline security.
And then there is the whole security screening process that discriminates against laptops and tablets, but apparently not iPads. It’s bad enough trying to figure out whether the laptop has to be removed from the bag or if shoes should be taken off. These days, I neither take out my laptop or remove my shoes unless I’m stopped and instructed to do so. Nine times out of ten I’m let through without any contest despite countless shoe-less sheep marching beside me.
According to a security expert, who asked that he not be identified because he has worked on related issues with the Department of Homeland Security, said that the laptop rule is about appearances, giving people a sense that something is being done to protect them. “Security theater,” he called it.
None of us would be having these difficulties if only there was some sort of a universal standard that allowed airlines and airports to converge on their ridiculous practices. Don’t you think that a consistent experience across all airports and airlines would save everyone a lot of time and aggravation?
I remember when at some point they started to swap out metal cutlery with crappy plastic ones as a safety precaution. I’m sure it was done as a direct result to thwart any terrorist attack or hijacking by way of a metal knife. I don’t know about you, but every plastic knife I’ve ever used had a sharper blade than the airline-provided metal equivalent.
Surely this was just a massive overreaction to the threat situation? Why else would they shortly thereafter reintroduce metal cutlery into business and first classes?
I guess nobody figured that terrorists with their multi-million dollar extremist backing would be able to afford those higher-priced classes. If I was trying to hijack a plane I’d want to sit as close to the steering wheel as was physically possible. I think Business or First Class would do the job nicely.
And don’t forget about all the other perks that will enable the terrorist to thoroughly enjoy those last few hours: better food, higher baggage allowance, VIP lounge entry, priority seating and, of course, a glass of champagne upon entry (non-alcoholic, naturally). With all this luxury at their fingertips, I wonder if any of them ever got cold feet and considered backing out of the suicide mission?
But then again, if you are planning on taking over a plane with crude eating implements, wouldn’t you at least want some basic hand-to-hand combat training to fall back on in case you accidentally drop the butter-covered knife?
It almost looks as though we are stating that a blunt butter-knife is more dangerous than a skilled punch to the throat or a kick to the groin. If that’s the case, how long before passengers are put in restraints under the guise of security? After all, a hand is a lethal weapon.
The reality is that there is no standard. Countries have plunged their heads deep beneath the sands of fear and refuse to see the light. Security is not something that is achieved through ignorance, blind faith or herd mentality. Instead, we need to understand the threat, make educated decisions and put in place effective countermeasures without going overboard or abusing basic human rights, like taking away my metal butter knife.