Crusader Corner: Rethinking Airport Security Worldwide After Brussels and Istanbul

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / People stand outside the entrance as they leave the airport after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport of Ataturk in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016. At least 10 people were killed on June 28, 2016 evening in a suicide attack at the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said. Turkey has been hit by a string of deadly attacks in the past year, blamed on both Kurdish rebels and the Islamic State jihadist group. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

What’s the point of stringent checks at the departure gates if anybody can walk into an airport terminal and start killing people?

I have stood in a line for well over an hour for the security check at a very busy airport on the US East Coast. A line of hundreds upon hundreds of people that stretched the width of a warehouse-sized hall, that doubled and tripled and quadrupled back on itself — people crowded in together, shuffling to left and to right as they made their painstaking way to the bag-check machines. A line, I was told, that was entirely unremarkable in its length and in the wait it involved. A line, most relevantly, that was accessible to anyone who entered the terminal.

I have waited in lines in the departures halls at airports all over Europe to check in luggage. Waited for ages among crowds of passengers and overflowing luggage trolleys at counters, again, freely accessible to anyone who walks into the airport.

I have stood with crowds of impatient passengers waiting at the baggage reclaim conveyor belts of airports worldwide. In some airports, the area is off-limits to the wider public. In some, armed police and security staff are on hand. At others, the arrivals halls and baggage reclaim areas are open to the street outside.

I have endured the rigors of ostensibly extra-stringent security for various European airlines’ flights to Tel Aviv, had the soles of my shoes double-scanned, watched security staffers agonize over whether a small can of deodorant is going to be allowed on board, seen my young daughter being taken off toward a side room for some unspecified further examination with my outraged wife in hot pursuit.

At Newark airport a few weeks ago, I waited behind a family whose pigtailed toddler daughter was being patted down repeatedly and who had collapsed into baffled tears because something on her person kept setting off the metal detector.

At another North American airport, I waited in a line that simply didn’t move because the staffer operating the bag-check machine couldn’t get herself comfortable in her chair, kept sliding off it, kept returning the same red bag through her machine for recheck after recheck because she’d been preoccupied with her chair each time it went through, and then, aware of the mounting rumble from the waiting passengers, cleared a long line of bags with only the most cursory of examinations in order to get the line moving again.

I’ve flown home from one Mediterranean country in protracted semi-panic because several of the large young men sitting in the rows around me on the flight had set off the metal detectors in security and been waved blithely through.

You’ve doubtless had similar experiences. Or worse.

Read the Remainder at Times of Israel

 

 

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