Airport Security

I fly a fair bit, less than some people I know but more than others. So I’ve spent a fair amount of time going through security, and it seems to have been a bit of a hot topic in the news lately so I thought I might weigh in.

I don’t mind airport security, I’ve done it often enough that I have my own little routine, and I generally know the best way to avoid the queues. Top tips: Fly as early as you can, or as late as you can, if you’re flying midday get there early and check-in online if you can. Most large airports have several security checkpoints, often one of them is much quieter than the others, it’s often faster to walk than to queue. Although you need to know your airports or do a bit of searching online beforehand. Aside from that, keep as much as you can in hand luggage and try and be patient.

I don’t mind security, I also don’t believe that it’ll ever be 100% perfect. There’s a whole flood of people pouring through the gates and, regardless of all the technology, the weak link is always going to be the human behind the screens. No human is 100% perfect, all we can hope for is that whatever slips through isn’t something bad. The odds are good, but not certain.

I don’t mind the full body scanners, I went through one in Amsterdam once. It was faster and easier than normal security and I have no real problems with people seeing my a blurry outline of my bits. Most stories are concentrating on the privacy aspects with only a brief aside about the usefulness of the technology. I think it improves the odds and I’m sure there are ways to offset the privacy concerns. Of course you have to balance the cost of beefing up security with the benefits it actually brings, but somewhere in the calculations you end up putting a price on life … good luck getting that past the Daily Mail.

I don’t mind the government rolling out the full body scanners throughout the UK, I don’t know if the benefits merit the costs involved, but then that’s not my job.

I do mind the reasons underpinning the increased security, this isn’t part of a periodic review, this is a reaction to the hapless underpants bomber over Christmas. A worldwide knee-jerk reaction to a fortunately failed bomb plot. A reaction that may not even improve the chances of detecting a similar plot, let alone whatever comes next.

As I said no security will be 100% perfect, but I rather that governments weren’t doing something just to be seen to be doing something. I’m not going to speculate on what form the next plot will take (and definitely not on twitter in case I get lifted) but we’re assured there’s a continued threat. At some point something else will fall through the cracks, and then more security will be introduced. There will be a point where there’s nowhere else to go.

If people, are their governments, are so used to the action/reaction between the bombers and the authorities where will it all lead? Do we keep getting more draconian or does the government have to turn round and say “mistakes happen, it was one of those things”. Again, good luck seeing how that flies with the Daily Mail.

Had the Christmas day bomber been successful where would we be, the same increased security or would it have been spun as a tragic one off?

By failing and demonstrating how they’d bypassed security have the terrorists pushed the world’s governments closer to introducing seriously dubious measures and policies.

Could a sufficiently intelligent group of people realise that there’s far more milege is causing havoc and sowing dissent with failed bombings than there is with successful ones … On the one hand I’d like to think that the people behind this aren’t really trying to blow up planes, on the other hand that sort of long term plotting puts them higher up the rungs of intelligence than I’d like to think they are.

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