When a flight attendant tells you that you can’t have a pillow on your lap, or must remain seated an hour before landing (Yahoo News), it is time to question the competence of security agencies. Those new rules imply that an explosive device could well be already in the plane, and obviously, it has just happened. Instead of acknowledging their failure by adding new measures that consider all passengers as threats, wouldn’t it be better to ensure that no explosive gets aboard? As Bruce Schneier notes in his security blog, “Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.” They are certainly more willing to do so after September 11. I believe that flight-crew training is the best thing TSA could invest in.
We all want to fly safely, but at what price? It is bad enough that we must all go through patting, puffing-sniffing machines, x-rays, shoe removal and dubious looks and questions, it should ensure that once on the plane, we are treated as paying customers again. TSA could lean a few things from El-Al security measures, including racial profiling. Instead, they ask grandmothers to remove their shoes, and ban children from flights because their name match a suspected terrorist. If I had to choose between a fountain pen and a nail file for a weapon, I’ll take the pen any day. Not that bringing explosives on-board or weapons is difficult.. Political correctness should go overboard before safety and privacy.
Airlines should feel the economic pressure of ineffective security policies. They would then lobby for better measures and training, not more of the same nonsense. The only way we can do this is simply take the car, or train when possible for short trips. I wish the United States had not lost it’s railroad industry. You can zip all around Europe at 200mph in total comfort, are we so far behind technologically? It is the responsibility of taxpayers to see that their money is used in a reasonably responsible and effective manner. Keeping me from going to the bathroom at the end of a flight or not giving me a pillow is not going to make a flight safer. If that device on the Northwest/Delta flight had been well made, the plane would have gone down, pillow or not. It only takes a fraction of a second to press a button.