So I am going to be a little controversial here. I want to talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room “Airport Security” to examine if it even works and what we could be doing to make it easier for travelers.
Since the aftermath of 9/11 the world (particularly the Western one) has been in a tizzy about airport security. In my view a lot of the actions they’ve taken have been misguided. It seems well intentioned but just more theater and spectacle than practical and effective. Let’s be honest banning the weakest stainless steel knife to cut our food seems a little absurd when we can easily take bottles of liquor from duty free on board. Goodness knows what you could do with a broken bottle on the plane.
It all seems so pointless. Has any terrorist ever been stopped at a security line at an airport? No. So all this extra time at an airport with the proviso that we are secure, seems like a little bit of a waste of time. Not that we should not screen. We just need to do it on a basis that is real and stop doing it in order to pretend that we are all safe and good to go.
The reason I bring this up is that a few days ago I was on a flight from MSP-FLL. The Vice President of the United States was on his plane ready to take off so all commercial planes that were ready to go were held at the gate for security reasons and not allowed to taxi on the the runway. This lead to a huge back up of 30 planes once he took off. So if the Vice President of the United States actually believed that we are all secure and that the current security measures work, why on earth would they have to take these additional precautions? Because they don’t trust their own system enough. That’s why.
I was at LHR a while back and bought a pack of taramasalata through security . This was bought at Marks and Spencer at the airport, landside. I asked if I needed to take it out my case and place in a clear bag. I was informed I could not take it through. Ok, so why? I asked. Well it’s a pastey kind of food . Hmmm. I questioned if that was actually in the requirements for security screening or just his opinion. A pastey kind of food – what’s that? Either it is a liquid or it is not. The Agent’s understanding of culinary delights and how they relate to airline security all sounded rather vague. The young kid that said to me it’s a pastey kind of food, ended his answer with “Is it” which confused me. I thought I was watching a sketch from Catherine Tate’s iconic Lauren Character or Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard.
Having told you this, let me just expand my condemnation and say that the whole line up at security seems like a joke. If they made tables 3 times the size, then we would be able to unload, take out iPads, computers, coats, jackets,belts, phones, shoes and wallets all in a more timley manner . Now we seem to have 5 feet of space to virtually strip down naked. And don’t get me started about how this process confuses the initiated. Infrequent travelers seems like deer in the headlights.
In the USA we have this brilliant scheme “TSA approved”. This is a pre-clearance benefit that is given to elite level travelers on frequent flyer programs or it can be purchased for $85 in order to access it. This all sounded a fantastic plan a year ago. Those who travel often and have a profile that can be accessed by the TSA are allowed to more speedily run through security. No shoes off, computers out or jackets off… fantastic.
Now the way this works is that you are only assured of the quick screening when it pops up only your boarding card or the AP showed you have access. If you were on the list then security took 5 minutes. However these days many travellers have this service and so the lines are just as long as they ever were. Was this a revenue grab or a scheme that just doesn’t work? Who knows.
Security is important and there has to be a better way. Come on Security- profile every passenger and know what you are looking for . I’m pretty sure you aren’t concerned with an 80 year-old woman with a pacemaker or a 43 year-old chef taking back some tarama- bloody salata. Don’t you know how much I like caviar!
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.