Saturday, 26 April 2008

Over zealous airport security?

Airline crew have to go through very stringent checks to get passes that allow them to work "airside" at the airport. They have to account for all their addresses over five years, and give an abundance of personal details, to make sure (and sensibly so) that there's nothing in their background to cause concern. Consequently, they are about as checked-out as you can get.

Why, then, are they subjected to such degrading and infuriating searches at airports? Let me explain....

My husband and his colleagues have to go through the same security checks as passengers, which is fair enough. But what I don't understand is why in many cases the security staff find it so necessary to go above and beyond this, to such an extent that many pilots believe it could have an effect on safety. This is an extract from Chirp, which is an anonymous safety reporting system which anyone can read - just take a look here.

"During the lower body search the guard touched me on the right testicle, at which point I cautioned him that I objected. He then proceeded to touch my left testicle, so I put my left hand out to touch him on the chest to confirm to him that enough was enough. He then said I'd assaulted him by punching him in the chest. A supervisor said the police should be informed. I was cautioned, charged, and taken to a police station."

And this is another - she/he is an air traffic controller:

"I find myself at the beginning of each and every shift calming down at least one member of my staff who have felt harassed, and, quite frankly, not in the correct frame of mind to control upwards of 55 aircraft movements per hour".

My concern is just this, that one day a pilot is going to be so angry and distracted that he/she makes a fatal error. It's not just this feeling of having their privacy invaded; many pilots I know also say they've been made late for their flight, which is a worrying trend. After all, they have enough to deal with already, with fatigue, the pressure to fly to schedule, and the congestion in Britain's airports (particularly Heathrow, which is a nightmare.) Extra pressures are certainly not needed.

These levels of security just doesn't make sense to me. No amount of airport screening is going to stop a potential suicide bomber pilot crashing an aircraft, if that's what they have decided to do. They don't NEED any weapons to cause mass destruction, do they?

It strikes me that it's all just a power trip (which I've experienced in a small way as a passenger, and that's quite enough for me, thanks!) But the terrible question is, how long before this sad little self-esteem boost causes a tragedy?

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful blog!! Thank you for writing it!




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