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Monday 28 December 2009

Flights Of Fancy?

I am just about to book a return flight to the USA, for a few months time.

After the events of the past few days, it is no surprise that i am wondering what this may lead to. Apart from the obvious concerns for my own safety. I am also left wondering what sort of extra security systems may still be in place when i plan to travel & how long the check in time may be!

The last time i flew to the USA, in September 2008, the security was tight. But, not excessively so. Well, not in my opinion anyway.
My opinion has always been that, there is an obvious threat & that these things need to be done to protect myself & everyone else. I know full well that the air routes between the UK & USA are a prime target for terrorists, whether we like that, or not.

I'll admit, the part of the whole security process that tends to annoy me the most is all of the form filling & online checks that are done, both prior to the actual flight & on the plane itself.
And i haven't even mentioned the many checks that take place on arrival in the USA itself!
But, once again, i have just accepted them as a part of the process.

Now, i learn though, that in the most recent incident on that now infamous Amsterdam to Detroit flight, these systems all seem to have failed.

A person has managed to board a flight across the atlantic to the USA, with explosives strapped to his body. Not only that, but we now know that this person was known to the authorities in America, after being reported by his father.
We also know that he was also refused a visa to visit the UK, earlier this year, because of security concerns.
And i heard today, that he boarded this flight without any checked baggage. Isn't this just a little bit suspicious?

So, we put all of these security measures in place & somebody still manages to evade them all?

I vivdly remember the time when we in the UK had terrorist problems with the IRA. There was a famous quote from a member of the IRA, at the time, who said that "We only have to get lucky once. You have to get lucky every single time"
How very true, both then & now.

We got very lucky on that Amsterdam to Detriot plane on Christmas Day. Don't forget that.
If that explosive device had detonated properly, that plane would have gone down with everybody on board it. Regardless of whatever anybody on board might have done to try & prevent it.

So, what can be done?
Well, obviously, we need to make sure that the measures that are in place actually work. After all, they only need to fail once....

Now, i'm no security, or aviation expert, but i'd hate to see any more security measures at airports. As with the IRA situation, if you stop, or dissuade people from flying in the first place, the terrorists will have effectively won. After all, you don't need to actually kill anyone to create chaos & disruption to "normal" life.

What, in my opinion, should be done, is to make better use of so called "profiling". I'll admit that this generally goes against my feeling of civil liberties. But, sometimes drastic measures have to be taken.
We already know that the Nigerian suspect, in this most recent attack, was known to the authorities, in more than one country. So, why was he allowed to board that plane?

Better & co-ordinated use of "intelligence" & profiling will surely help to stop suspected terrorists from being allowed to board certain planes & enter certain countries. That can't be a bad thing, can it?
We should also learn from other countries, namely Israel, whose methods have been proved to be successful.
I know that these measures will inevitably tend to target certain people & maybe even some ethnic groups. But, why target & inconvenience everybody, when you possibly don't have to?

If you combine the measures that are already in place, with the better use of intelligence. This can only help to make flying safer for everybody, in the long run.
And isn't that what we all want?

And if that can all be done by late April 2010, i'd very much appreciate it.


  1. Profiling, here, wouldn't have helped. We knew who he was, but for some bizarre reason he was allowed to board without extra checks - or even, it seems, the basic checks we all put up with.

    This incident doesn't point to the need for more procedures - it points to the need to actually follow the procedures already in place!

  2. Ken: I agree with you about this particular case. As you say, the profiling had already been done.
    My concern is that there will be yet more knee jerk reactions to this incident. Most of which are totally unneeded.
    I'd just prefer to see a little more emphasis on profiling & less on even more security checks at airports & restrictions onboard planes.

  3. My wife has quite a specific take on this, being on Nigerian descent. Now not only do certain authorities distrust Nigerians following 419 scams but she fears now being lumped into a group labelled Terrorists, all from the actions of one man.

  4. Craig: I'm afraid your wifes predicament is a pretty common one these days. People, or groups always get labelled the same. You know the type of things: all muslims are terrorists, all politicians are crooks, all vloggers are weird. That kind of thing.
    It's not right, or correct. But, ignorance is sometimes hard to beat.