Friday, 16 November, 2001

Airport Security?

I visited 6 airports this week:  Austin, Dallas Love, Lubbock, DFW, Chicago O'Hare, and Columbus.  This was my second week of flying since the September 11 attacks, the first being in early October when Debra and I went to Chicago.  In October, security was noticeably tighter than before September 11, but now it's even better.  On every flight now, they pick random passengers for additional screening.  I got picked at Love Field on Monday.  It's not a strip search or anything--just a detailed inspection of the carry on bag and a going-over with the metal detector wand.  The search is conducted out in the open (none of this "behind closed doors" crap you hear horror stories about), and the screeners are courteous.  They also have started checking photo IDs against boarding documents--not only at the security checkpoint, but also at the gate just before you board the flight.  The check at the gate is new since early October--they didn't do that when I went to Chicago.

The security is not without its flaws, though.  As I was boarding one flight, one person was taking tickets while another was going through the line checking IDs and writing "OK" on the boarding pass.  It would have been a simple matter for me to write OK on my boarding pass and slip into line ahead of the ID checker.  In another instance the ticket taker asked if somebody had already checked my ID.  In Columbus, an employee skipped to the head of the line at the security checkpoint, walked through the metal detector (which buzzed), and waved at her co-worker who had detained a passenger.  This particular employee then submitted herself for "wanding", but I wonder if she could have continued on unmolested if she had wanted to.  One shudders to think. 

I realize that the random additional screening and ID checks are deterrents, not preventive measures, but if I can pick out flaws just from casual observation, I wonder what somebody who really studies the matter can come up with.