Post Trip Report – Safer due to the increase checks?

Following up on the below entry… “Do Reactionary Security Measures Make us safer?

The first pass through x-ray etc. at Heathrow was uneventful and normal. The long lines at the departure gate for the additional screening were another story. I’ll cover the facts, you make your own mind up and I’ll throw in some opinions at the end;

  • Men & “Women + Children” separated (even for those traveling with infants)
  • My bag check (a large camera bag with 4 cameras, multiple lenses, portable hard drives, notebook + accessories) = 20 seconds. This was fairly consistent for males from the time I spent in the queue watching the checks.
  • My pad down – reasonable and lasted maybe 30 seconds
  • My wife’s bag check = 15 minutes. Every item checked in granular detail, including her wallet.
  • Baby taken from my wife for her pad down. Personal gripe: staff touched out babies face (after touching thousands of other travelers) and held our baby.
  • Wife forced to taste her own breast milk – for 2nd time as it was done @ first security check (was she going to make a breast milk bomb in the terminal between checks? I guess it’s possible?)
  • My wife’s pad down time = about 2 minutes

In summary; Perceived inconsistency in time and thoroughness of female + male checks and pad downs. Families separated not allowing fathers to help with infants. I won’t even go into that, what is this a sinking cruise ship in the 1920’s?

Does this make us safer? Quite possibly it does. If so then it begs the questions why it is not the norm? Is the “every day” risk that a suicide bomber will come through significantly lower, bear in mind this is a time when we are “at war with terrorism”?

Again, I can’t hold the security staff at fault. I appreciate their efforts as I do with everyone involved in helping to keep us safe. The guy at Heathrow who padded me down was super polite and respectful. The woman who padded my wife down was polite but in my humble opinion went way beyond the call of duty and really just wasted everyone’s time in a way that really didn’t help with our safety. Without knowing the full story of what is going on behind the scenes I can’t really pass judgment. I would like to think everything is being done in our best interests. In my opinion these checks whilst possibly making us safer really seems more like security theater to make us feel safer. And if they do make us safer then it raises concerns as to why this level of checks are not always in place.

Is the front in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan or at our airports et al? In any case it is via the latter that the attacks which resulted in this war took place. And for sure if it is the latter then we should expect to have seen significant investments to make us safer at those weak points. Investments like full body scanners that see through clothes for example. Maybe we will finally see that? Shares in companies who make those scanners are looking quite attractive right now.

Thanks to everyone who is working hard to make us safe. If you have more insight to share please do. My personal hope is that continued discussion and discourse on this topic can help add to public and official awareness that will contribute in us continuing to be safer and safer from terrorists as we travel the globe.

P.S. Thanks to @bergasonic who pointed to this article on Israeli security measures. My experience flying through Israel was that it appeared effective and efficient.

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One thought on “Post Trip Report – Safer due to the increase checks?

  1. Seems to be very reactive but with little thought to how the Israelies have been successful. While being right in the middle of many people who would like to cause them harm much more than to the US, and do on a daily basis it seems, they rarely ever have to change airport procedures and get people through quickly. Good article here: http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=54738I haven\’t been flying with the kids since Christmas 2008, but when we did that time on a domestic flight it took awhile, we only got seperated since I was carrying one of my twins that has a feeding pump. They were reasonable and did not hassle us over being able to take his pump and bag full of formula through, they used one of those chemical wipes to analyze and shot some type of air analyzer at the bag of food. Patted him and me down while I held him. Seems like it could have been much quicker if they had done a profile on us earlier as the Israelies do.I\’m hoping that they are just doing knee jerk changes now in order to try and stop any copy cats while they are re-evaluting the whole thing in the background and will streamline it. Some combo of technology and quick psychological profile should be all that is needed. I like the idea of someone asking you questions before you even check-in.@screwdriver

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