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Once Again, Airport Security Screws Up

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Source: Archived Content

Date: Nov 05, 2001

For heaven's sake, when the HELL is the U.S. government going to take an effective role in ensuring our safety?  How many more 'indicators' do we need?

How about nine knives, a can of Mace and a stun gun---all items that were seized from man trying to get onboard United Airlines flight 1085 to Omaha, Nebraska.  This didn't happen in Kabul ladies and gentlemen, but in Chicago's O'Hare airport last Saturday night.

DID SEPTEMBER 11th JUST NEVER OCCUR?  DID CONCERN FOR SECURITY JUST VANISH INTO THIN AIR?

Argenbright Security has caused nothing but trouble.  That Keystone Cops of a security firm reached a settlement in October with the Justice Department, admitting it had failed to complete court-ordered background checks on its employees.  They allowed untrained employees -- some with criminal backgrounds -- to operate airport checkpoints.  This isn't fiction.  These private security firms 'manage' our security and are indirectly responsible for our lives.

Not convinced yet?  CNN just reported that the man who tried to bring those knives onboard our plane may have "some connection with two men who were detained Sept.12 in Texas as material witnesses in the investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

I don't care how concerned the airlines or ESOP-tooting Wall Street hee-haws are in getting the stock prices back up and economy flowing again.  The first order of business is making our airlines more secure.  Everything else is just BS talk.

And while all these security concerns are going on, check out the lead story on today's UAL NewsReal: A special highlight article of 'What's Right With United' that leads off with the crowning achievement:

On Oct. 31, United's on-time :00 departure percentage was 64, 13 percentage points better than the month-to-date average, and 5 percentage points better than goal.

Isn't that wonderful?  Meanwhile back at the ranch, everything's A-OK!  Right?  Wrong.

I don't blame the U.S. public one iota for not wanting to fly right now.  Good for them.  Airline security was a silly joke before September 11th.  Airline security is now a rotten joke.   Many passenger bags are still being placed into the belly of the planes without being screened.  Airport x-ray screeners are required to have only 12 hours of classroom training before they can begin work.  12 hours?  Even our own ("It's called a serviette now class...smile everyone, BIG smiles!")  Flight Attendant Initial Training went on and on and on for weeks!  I seem to remember Dual-Aisle Service Flow lasting about 12 hours!  And classroom training to be 'qualified' as Purser?  Five solid days!

Without question, the following steps need to be taken---no exceptions and no corporate (but, but, but our...sniff-sniff...stock price?) whining:

  • End the practice of having the commercial airlines responsible for security -- this is hands down the most important safety step of all.
  • Fingerprint airport  ground workers and conduct criminal background checks -- why the hell not?  If you want to become a stockbroker and sell investments, you must go through this clearance---and so should airport workers.
  • Using face-scanning technology to match faces of passengers or crowds in the airport to databases of terrorists -- the more checks the better.  Ever see on the Travel Channel how security is conducted in a Las Vegas casino?  That's how it needs to be done in our goofy airports.
  • Turn all airport workers who screen passengers and luggage into federal employees and charge traveling passengers extra ticket taxes for this measure.  Don't want to pay an extra $2.50 surcharge on your airline ticket?  The Greyhound bus is a'calling for ye.
  • Get rid of all private airport security firms---and conduct criminal investigations into their past business practices---particularly Argenbright.

Do I sound harsh?  Boy, I certainly hope so.  I'm tired or reading article after article of post-September 11 airport security failures.  It's bothersome to see the federal government so divided as to a direction for our airline safety.  Airport security (and thus the safety of our lives)  seems to have become a political issue, and that isn't a good thing.

It's tiring to hear airlines whine about lack of travelers.  Yes, it's important to get the airlines running again to put things back in order.  Yes, jobs are at stake.  But unless we solve some serious security issues, and quickly, few people are going to have faith in air travel---and more damage will eventually occur.  Installing a pretty bar across a cockpit doors belongs to the category of:  That's nice...but...

Whatever it takes:  Fix airport and airline security and the travelers will come.

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