Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flying to the US just got worse. Again.

Thanks to a failed terrorist attack, flying to America just got a lot worse. Apparently, one has to arrive three hours before a flight. You'll no longer be allowed to access your carry-on baggage for the last hour of the flight, or to leave your seat. More, you won't be able to hold anything in your lap for that last hour. I presume that extends to dangerous items like pens and paper. Oh, one more thing, someone is going to comb through your bag at the gate. After they've done it at the first clearance area. This is a terrible policy for many reasons.

First, what is so special about the last hour of a flight? Why won't a terrorist then initiate an attack with 70 minutes to go? Second, if you've already looked through my bag then what can I hold in my lap that is a threat? Third, and this is the most important thing, do you think that having bags checked twice makes it more likely to find contraband? You may think yes, but there's a good reason to think it will make us less safe.

If you are a security official looking through a bag and you know that someone else is going to look through the bag again, do you think you will be more or less thorough? At first blush, you're likely more thorough, but imagine that you are facing a large line of passengers and your superiors have encouraged you to get people through the line quickly. In this likely circumstance, you may trust that the other individual checking bags will find any contraband. But what if they assume the same thing and they do a less than thorough job? Do you think we're more or less safe in this circumstance.

Flying is not dangerous. Hijackings are extremely rare. It's time to accept the risk.


Anonymous said...

I can't agree more with you. It looks to me that security rules are not proportional with actual risk. I will fly next Monday to Orlando for a one-week vacation. I'm happy that my departure was not scheduled one week early with all delays reported this morning.

P.S.: Will you teach during the winter term? I wish you an Happy New Year and hope you will like your new position!

Anonymous said...

It's good that you view this decision with some questioning. I'm gonna post a link to a radioshow from AM 640 where the guy talks about this in a lot of detail and the stuff you don't agree with is at least worth the entertainmetn value.

January 2/2010:
TOPIC: attack on Kurt Westergaard (Mohammed cartoonist), Christmas day bomb scare, Full body scanners at airports, Yemen connection and blaming Iran...

TIME: 2:31:20


January 10 2010:
TOPIC: Who changed the rules for all travelers around the world so quickly?, Full body scanners to be deployed in advance, number 23...

TIME: 2:29:36

SIZE: 25.7 Mb


Some of your students are payin attention ;)