AIRPORT SECURITY 2002
Beginning February 1, 2002 passengers will pay $2.50 per
flight to help defray the cost of new and hopefully improved
airport security. There's a maximum charge of $5 for a one-way
trip if you need to change planes. The Department of Transportation
expects to collect $900 million for the current fiscal year
ending in September. Will all this money make air travel safer?
Lets take a quick look at a couple of problems that money
may or may not solve.
Beginning January 18, new bag matching procedures were put
in place to match luggage with passengers who actually boarded
the plane on all domestic flights. It's a requirement that's
long overdue and has been in place on international flights
for years. The baggage match requirement in Europe has been
in place since Pan Am flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland
back in 1988. Many thought the new baggage match requirements
here in the U.S. would slow down the air transportation system,
but early results are promising with no major delays reported.
Unfortunately, a loophole still exists when it comes to matching
checked bags on connecting flights. As the rules are currently
enforced, bags are checked at the original departure point
only. Here's an example to illustrate the possible danger
as a result of this loophole: if a terrorist boards a flight
from Los Angeles to New York with a connecting flight in St.
Louis, the terrorist could actually get off the plane in St.
Louis and never board the flight to New York. In the meantime
the terrorists suitcases are transferred to the New York bound
flight with no attempt to match bag to passenger. The terrorist
is long gone and need I say still alive to plan more despicable
acts of terror.
Here's an even more disturbing problem that goes hand-in-hand
with the one
mentioned above. Checked luggage is still not screened for
most of the nations airports. Many of the machines needed
to perform this
task have not been installed and will not be for the foreseeable
reasons are many; costs, space and availability are just some
of the excuses
I've heard. Of those that are installed, Inspector General
says only half of the 161 machines are operating fulltime.
If a terrorist is
really committed to blowing up a plane as part of some suicide
only need to figure out a way to get the bag onboard the aircraft.
deadline for having explosive detection and x-ray machines
running at all airports is December 31, 2002. Call me a cynic,
willing to bet most airports wont make the due date.
And while I'm writing about airport security I ran across
article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that may be a harbinger
to come in aviation security. For those of you who are staunch
privacy and civil rights issues, you might want to avoid Palm
International Airport. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Palm
International will deploy a controversial new surveillance
of scanning faces of passengers to determine whether they
terrorists Many of you might remember this is the same technology
scan the faces of suspected criminals who might have attended
the Super Bowl
in Tampa a few years back. Deployment of this new face scanning
should be complete by the end of January. Tests of the system
performed over the next three months using the faces of airport
already scanned in the databases. If the test proves successful
hurdle to permanent deployment will most likely be the court
American Civil Liberties Union is keeping a watchful eye and
may file suit to
prevent this surveillance technologies permanent use. Are
you entitled to
privacy in a public place? Interesting dilemma, I'm glad its
not me that has