Shutting gates after bolted horses

I know security measures are typically designed to catch the last terrorism attempt rather than the next one, but this is ridiculous:

Transportation authorities began imposing tighter security measures at airports on Saturday and ordered new restrictions governing the activities of passengers during flights as investigators conducted searches to learn more about the Nigerian engineering student accused of igniting an incendiary device aboard a Northwest Airlines jet as it landed in Detroit on Friday. …

According to a statement posted Saturday morning on Air Canada’s Web site, the Transportation Security Administration will severely limit the behavior of both passengers and crew during flights in United States airspace — restricting movement in the final hour of flight. Late Saturday morning, the T.S.A. had not yet included this new information on its own Web site.

“Among other things,” the statement in Air Canada’s Web site read, “during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”

Huh? Are attempts to bring down planes more serious in the last hour of flight than the first? And has anyone who writes these rules ever travelled with a baby or a child?

This of course follows the US TSA’s decision to waste thousands of passenger hours in requiring shoes to be removed for baggage screening, despite the fact that there is nothing you can hide in your shoes that you could not also hide in your underwear.

4 thoughts on “Shutting gates after bolted horses”

  1. I can’t decide if I like the fact that people keep pointing out the massive stupidity in our “security” regulations when flying or if I lament the time lost for performing useful activities.  For if the TSA could be shamed into doing something productive, the US would be the safest country in which to fly.


  2. The ‘last hour’ ban (which reportedly is limited to inbound flights) isn’t entirely silly. A ‘last hour crash’ is a bigger reward for terrorists because it takes out some houses (though, in Detroit, they may well be abandoned McMansions or factories) in addition to a plane. Without this added payoff, suicide (or life in a US prison) may not be worth it. I imagine the logic of not banning the ‘first hour’ is that terrorists want to damage the US, not (necessarily) Amsterdam. And, the US authorities presumably think that the danger comes from inbound flights, which don’t have to pass through US security.
    Underwear will, fairly soon, be a poor hiding spot for nasty stuff once those ‘nude’ imaging machines become standard. But I imagine that shoes, which are typically made of sturdier stuff than undies, will need to be separately searched. As for travelling with kids: I’d be sad if people who wrote the security rules gave even the slightest consideration to parents with kids. If you don’t like the rules, don’t travel.


  3. Seems to be a case of diminishing returns. But then again it is the nature of incremental process improvements – always looking in the rear-view mirror.
    On the other hand the latest attempt represents an escalation in either ingenuity or desperation for the sole purpose of killing civilian air passengers (including aforementioned babies and children). It’s truly the case  that being paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t out to kill you.
    It would not surprise me if USA-inbound international flights become subject to as strict boarding conditions as Israeli flights. Welcome to extremely long boarding and connection times, with detailed questioning and body searches.


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