12/27/09

Air Scare



The recent attempt to blow up an airliner in mid-air is a testament that air travel is still vulnerable to terror freaks. I hate thinking about it while I prepare myself for an overseas trip in less than two weeks. Since 9/11, we have come to expect more secure airports worldwide especially after all that money spent on counter-terrorism and security fees attached to airfare cost. But reality slaps us in the face otherwise. Obviously, there are still loopholes in the system where people with intent to harm have devised very evil ways to pass through.

Quite coincidentally, I'll be flying through Amsterdam's Schipol Airport where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab took that Northwest flight to Detroit on Christmas day. While I'm not flying on any American carrier to Amsterdam, I expect to be one among the many passengers most likely to be singled out for additional security screenings whether at JFK or Schipol: I'm a male passenger flying solo and I'm flying to a final destination whose men have names like Mohammed, Nasser and yes, Umar. And from what I read in the New York Times today, travelers should expect more restrictions in the air.


Almost 3 weeks ago, I flew from San Francisco to New York. Having flown exclusively on American Airlines for flights within the US, I somehow have gotten used to the routine encounters with TSA agents and their x-ray machines, magnetometers and scanners. Just like Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) in the must-see movie Up In The Air, I have mastered security checks like a road warrior pro: no belts, no bottled water, laptop out, jackets out, slip-on shoes (with my watch, loose coins and wallet going inside the shoes). After being patted through, life for this traveler couldn't be so complicated.

But after Christmas day's near disaster - that presumably got an Al Qaeda hiding in some cave somewhere feeling so frustrated - new rules will come into play for all air travelers. According to the New York Times report, "passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps." Which means, no more last minute dash to the lavatory just when the plane prepares to land. And no more work on that laptop computer when the seat belt sign is on. And since Umar apparently used a blanket to cover-up what he was doing, I guess flight attendants will now be collecting blankets and pillows along with the headphones? Oh well...


Air travel of course need not be scary. Or stressful. The joys of exploration and discovery have been made more expedient thanks to air travel, and it still is. There can be as many restrictions now for passengers as governments would want to implement - which really is not effective - but as long as every passenger comes prepared, there's no reason not to look forward to flying. In these troubled times, we just can't afford to let our guards down.

17 comments:

  1. I thought about the recent situation as I'm going to travel in first quarter of the year. But yours is too soon. Take care.

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  2. The goal of terrorism is to terrorize people which is what is happening. You don't need to take down a plane to accomplish that and the ineffective security countermeasures enacted by the TSA do nothing but facilitate fear and cost money.

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  3. I thought about this matter as well - how the security checks may be further tightened for international travellers. You've made very good point there; I am also learning to be more travel-savvy in terms of preparing for the security checks/screening.

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  4. the issues about air terrorism and even the preventive measures to such are actually scary! even watching movies like final destination and plot of tv series lost deviate me from my actual senses before a flight; much more real issues concerning air crafts and all. or perhaps, it just me, lol. :D

    wishing you safest trips and more fun-filled travels this 2010 and beyond!

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  5. i heard about the guy coming in from shiphol airport. my experience about that airport based on a layover is that it's not "strict" and it can get chaotic there as well.

    have a wonderful and safe trip.

    happy new year.

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  6. Hi Witsandnuts,
    I'm looking forward to it, thanks.

    Hi Anil,
    That's the point - and as soon as this new rules are enforced, Osama's goons will think of doing something else - like perhaps changing the timing? The key is vigilance. Those passengers did save the plane and their lives!

    Hi Aud,
    When passengers come to the airport fully prepared, security checks won't be so bad.

    Hi Doc Gelo,
    We can't deny that terrorism is an ongoing threat but it need not deter us from going on with our lives, flying included.

    Hi Photo Cache,
    I've passed through Schipol some years ago but I don't remember going though chaos - perhaps because I was only in transit? I actually like the airport.

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  7. I have mastered security checks like a road warrior pro: no belts, no bottled water, laptop out, jackets out, slip-on shoes >>> nice! i heard about it few hours when it happened as it was in the news.

    i just hope that the security measures will help in avoiding such incidences.

    be safe when you're traveling.

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  8. safe and happy travels to you in 2010 and beyond! :)

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  9. Yup! if we will always live with fears in our hearts... how can we experience the joy of life... jijijijijiji

    Happy new year to you!

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  10. Travel pro eh? I bet you have noticed the different lines that the TSA has now in the Security Check area: the pros, the semi-pros, and the families.

    I used to be excited every time I would be riding a plane. I liked the idea that I touch down on a place that I haven't been before, it's like a warping portal thing. But now, I have made about 84 flights (a minuscule number compared to yours I bet) and I started feeling like flying is just a routine. I dunno, but still, when I get a route that sends me to some airport that I haven't been to yet for a connection, there's still the excitement. The excitement of traveling to new places. Unfortunately, there are people who have nothing better to do that spoils that romance.

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  11. Tsktsk.. the hassles of terrorism. *sigh*. Have a safe trip! I'm traveling first week of 2010 as well. Safety first of course.. :) Happy New Year!

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  12. arghh...your line about being singled-out for additional security screenings happened to me. What was infuriating at that time was I was the only Asian looking with Asian sounding name on that flight and I was the only one who were made to undergo a lot of security screenings. Oh well, the travails of travels. Have a safe albeit an enjoyable trip. Happy New Year!

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  13. scare or no scare, people are still going to travel. the added security measures are sure going to be an added hassle but for the sake of safety, it's worth it.

    have a blessings-filled year ahead bro!

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  14. New Year's Day is every man's birthday. Happy New Year Everyone.....

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  15. Hi Dong,
    I'm not really confident about the new measures. Now, they're even backtracking from it - so inconsistent!

    Hi Fortuitous,
    Thanks!

    Hi Xprosaic,
    Happy new year as well!

    Hi Cza,
    Happy and safe travels to you wherever you're going next year.

    Hi Marites,
    It's randomly done but I don't mind the extra security screenings if it only clears up doubts.

    Hi Lagal[og],
    For now, some of those new measures are being taken back which just shows how premature the government's piecemeal reaction to every terror plot is.

    Hi Pusang-kalye,
    Happy new year too!

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  16. Happy new year to you and to your whole family. More blessings for the year of the tiger!

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  17. I actually flew into JFK on Monday and was expecting delays from added security checks, but it felt like the same old same old...

    anyway, Happy New Year Nomad!

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