Monday, December 28, 2009

Airport Style Security

Recently a plane from Amsterdam bound for Detroit was almost blown up by a male passenger. This lead me to review the security measures I've come accross in the past five years as an airline passenger. The main question is "would the security measures at the airports attended have prevented a situation like the one faced by the passengers on the plane bound for Detroit?" During the past five years I've been through security at four airports in two countries:

1. John F. Kennedy (New York, New York, USA)

2. Buffalo International Airport (Buffalo, New York, USA)

3. Lester B. Pearson Airport (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

4. McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

5. Liberty Internatioal Airport (Newark, New Jersey, USA)

Out of the five airports only one would have successfully found the explosives.

Buffalo International, which I have been through twice on my way to New York City, has passengers go through an explosives detecting machine. The machine is an archway with doors on one side. Passengers walk up to the footprints, stand there and the machine gives a quick burst (puff) of air. The puff of air is just enough to lift long hair in interesting patterns that can be funny for people waiting in line. The burst of air is then analyzed for any traces of certain materials that go in to explosives. This machine would have easily detected the material and stopped the suspect before he even boarded the airplane.

The only problem at Buffalo International is that only half of those in line go through the explosive detection machine. There is only one line for passengers departing from Buffalo International. However, the line is split into two with one set going off to the traditional metal detectors and the explosive detection machine while the other only goes to the metal detectors. Thus it is easy to avoid the machine by simply ordering yourself so that you go through in the line with the metal detector only. Hopefully in the near future at Buffalo International Airport this issue will be solved with another explosive detection machine being installed.

The other airports, both Canadian and American do not have the explosive detection machine. These airports include two New York area airports (Newark and John. F. Kennedy) who are located within 100 KM of where the World Trade Centre was levelled in September 2001. Thus it is surprising the lack of security measures at these two airports in terms of explosives.

With all of the above in mind, how does a law abiding passenger get through airport style security quickly, thoughtfully (for both yourself and the security agent) and legally? Try these tips:

1. Check any liquid in your checked baggage. Liquids include shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and bottled water. Side note: After going through airport security I find it humourous that one of the first items available for sale from concession stands is bottled water and soda pop.

2. While in line at security, take out all pocket change, your watch and anything else metallic on you. Put these items into your carry on luggage bag. By putting all of these items in your carry on bag you can quickly and easily get through the metal detector and pick up your carry on bag from scanning without fumbling for things in the bottom of the plastic container. Tip: For pocket change and your watch bring a ziploc bag with you to hold all of these items. The ziploc bag can easily be pulled out of your carry on bag and items put back in your pocket. Airport screeners loved my idea of the ziploc bag for making their metal detection sweep of me easy and for scanning purposes on their end.

3. Plan to be in airport security lines for at least two hours before your flight. So check in early and get in line early with a good book (The book should fit in your carry on bag for scanning purposes!).

4. Have your passport and boarding pass ready. Use your boarding pass to bookmark your the page with your photo on it in your passport. This makes identifying yourself to airport security and, eventually, airplane boarding easy.

1 comment:

  1. When we flew out of Buffalo in October, EVERYONE had to go through the bomb sniffer AND the metal detectors...!!


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