flying : LUSENET : like sands : One Thread

Have you flown since the terrorist attacks on 9/11? Are you scared about flying now?

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001


We have not flown since 9 11 but already have tickets and will fly to Eugene, Oregon on November 13th and return to Denver on the 23rd. Neither one of us is a bit worried.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

I travel for work and have taken 10 flights since the attack. I have elite status on the airlines on which I fly so I get to bypass the lines. (Ha ha ha!) When I travel I carry on all my bags. And since I like to keep my finger nails short I had always carried a clipper. While I favor increased security I think it is STUPID to take tweezers and finger nail clippers away from passengers. I generally take 2 to 8 flights per week. I can tell you for sure that there are items sold behind the security check points that can be used as a weapon that are certainly more dangerous than tweezers. I fear that enforcement of STUPID and useless security measures will weaken support for tighter security measures in general, including the meaningful ones.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

I have an early morning cross-country flight to Norfolk in a couple of weeks. I was tempted to be at the airport two hours early instead of three especially since the airline won't even OPEN until two hours before my flight but it sounds like maybe three hours isn't a bad idea! I'm going to be flying all day anyway.

Pilots are complaining that all of their sharp objects are being confiscated before they can get on the planes they're flying. Don't tell anyone that right above the door in every cockpit there is the *sharpest* steel axe you will ever find in your life. It's designed to cut through anything in the airplane in an emergency and it's probably never been used.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

Drool, Tweezerman. Hey, I live in the area, wanna borrow mine? :)

But um, yeah, to the question, I am supposed to fly later this month (Oct) and I am very very nervous. My boyfriend offered to fly out here instead, but I feel just as scared to have him fly (although he already has). And I was scared of flying to start out with, so...

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

The events of September 11 have not substantially altered the numerical risks associated with flying. If anything, I'd say the risks of your plane being hi-jacked have diminished due to the increased security. So why would anyone change their plans about flying? In fact, I was all set to take advantage of the vacation bargains available right now but couldn't get the necessary time off work (for November). I'll be flying next year though.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

I don't think the risks of hijacks have diminished at all. Terrorists who didn't watch Dateline a few months ago didn't realize how ineffective U.S. airport security is. Now know how easy it is to twart the system. I saw how the security airports had during the Gulf War slowly deteriorated every year. It will take them months to get back to that level again.

In 1994 I was physically searched before getting on a plane in Manchester U.K. because I had answered the standard questions too quickly (as if I had been coached what to say) and in some ways I fit the profile of a potential IRA terrorist. When it came to security, those Brits didn't screw around.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

Am I scared about flying? You bet. I don't give a damn what the airlines say. They still have the same low paid and poorly trained guards they had before the tragedy. You can't expect quality service if those who are supposed to keep you safe make the same money as McDonald's chefs. Confiscating tweezers and nail clippers isn't enough for me. I had booked a flight to Charleston for Thanksgiving but I cancelled it several days after the tragedy and now will be using Amtrak. I refuse to get within a mile of an airport until the guards are paid more money, are better trained or U.S. marshals take over airport security.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

I saw in the newspaper that as of tomorrow, National Guard troops armed with M-16s will be standing guard at passenger screening stations at SFO. I'm guessing other airports will do the same if they haven't already.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2001

Well, I flew 4 times last year and was simply aghast at the lack of security. At no time was I even required to show ID. As I've said before, they should ban carry-on luggage. Also, with the ceramics and plastics technology of today it seems rather futile to pass people through just a metal detector. They need to install these babies to see through clothes. ;-)

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2001

Was that in the U.S. that you weren't asked to show I.D.? I've been asked to show a license for every flight I've taken since the Gulf War.

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2001

Yeah, the flights were in the US (via Continental, if I remember correctly). The only time anyone had to show ID was when my wife checked the bags. They required ID for that. Otherwise, nada. I was very surprised. Perhaps they were operating under the assumption that terrorists don't bring along their 5 year old children?

In any case I didn't feel very safe. Ever since the incident in 1996 when 3 hijackers caused a plane to run out of fuel and crash into the Indian ocean killing 123 people I've been paranoid about hijackers.

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2001

I think it's that you have to show ID in order to get a boarding pass. But yeah, in recent years, you haven't had to show a boarding pass or ID to get to the gate.

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2001

I've travelled with e-tickets 4 times since the attacks, and every time (including Newark), I just showed an Internet printout of my itinerary along with my driver's license for the FBI-type at the start of the security checkpoint and was on my way. No waiting in line at all. And I had luggage I gate-checked, too.

-- Anonymous, October 07, 2001

The so called increased security is a waste of time and does not add to the safety of flying. None of the steps taken to increase security would have stopped the events that occurred on September 11. All of the terrorists purchased their tickets legally and passed through the security check points. One could argue that the tradegy might have been avoided had the terrorists not been allowed bring the box cutters through security. However, the truth is that their bluff with the phony bombs is what won the submission of the passengers on the first three planes. The brave Americans on the fourth plane, having knowledge of what had been done on the others, demonstrated that box cutters were not a potent enough weapon the to allow the terrorists to maintain control. The terrorists did not show up at the airport with ski masks or wearing "terrorist" signs. So other than possibly causing the terrorists to have missed their flight, what good would the increased security procedures or nation guard troops have done?

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001

Well, I think the increased show of security is supposed to make people feel better and also act as a deterrent. I think it's supposed to be like the "broken windows" strategy of crime prevention--when you clean up junk in the streets and get rid of graffiti in a neighborhood, it sends criminals a message that people who live there care about the neighborhood and as a result, crime goes down. I don't exactly know if this will work against terrorists as it does against street criminals, but I guess it's worth a try.

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001

They stole your tweezers.

Federal Aviation Administration
Aviation Update
Tuesday, October 9, 2001
10:00 a.m. Eastern Time

FAA Advises Air Travelers on Airport, Airline Security Measures
On Oct. 8, the FAA issued the following tips to help air travelers meet and assist the heightened security measures implemented since the Sept. 11 attacks. Please note that air travelers are limited to one carry-on bag and one personal item on all flights.

Allow extra time:
The heightened measures require more time to properly screen travelers. Travelers should contact their airline to find out how early they should arrive at the airport.

Take public transportation to the airport if possible. Parking and curbside access is likely to be controlled and limited.

Curbside check-in is available on an airline-by-airline basis.
Travelers should contact their airline to see if it is in place at their airport.

A government-issued ID (federal, state, or local) is required. Travelers may be asked to show this ID at subsequent points, such as at the gate, along with their boarding passes.

Automated check-in kiosks are no longer available.

E-ticket travelers should check with their airline to make sure they have proper documentation. Written confirmation, such as a letter from the airline acknowledging the reservation, may be required.

Screener checkpoints:
Only ticketed passengers are allowed beyond the screener checkpoints, except for those with specific medical or parental needs.

Each traveler will be limited to one carry-on bag and one personal bag (i.e., purse or briefcase).

All electronic items, such as laptops and cell phones, may be subjected to additional screening. Be prepared to remove your laptop from its travel case so that both can be X-rayed separately. Limit metal objects worn on person.

Travelers should remove all metal objects prior to passing through the metal detectors in order to facilitate the screening process.

Items prohibited from aircraft cabins:
The following items must be placed in, or transported as, checked baggage or risk confiscation.
Knives of any length, composition or description

Cutting instruments of any kind and composition, including carpet knives and box cutters (and spare blades), any device with a folding or retractable blade, ice picks, straight razors, metal scissors and metal nail files


Baseball/softball bats

Golf clubs

Pool cues

Ski poles

Hockey sticks

When in doubt, transport item in checked baggage

Permitted items:
Walking canes and umbrellas (once inspected to ensure prohibited items are not concealed)

Nail clippers

Safety razors (including disposable razors)

Syringes (with documented proof of medical need)


Eyelash curlers

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001

Well, tweezers were explicitly not allowed when I flew before, so it was really my own fault. I guess I'll be able to tweeze to my heart's delight when I fly to Chicago for JournalCon this weekend, though!

I was just shocked to see that eyelash curlers had been banned! I figured some man must have decided that they looked scary and banned them...

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001

I took a trip this past weekend, so went through both the St. Louis and Baltimore airports. At BWI, I only showed my ID once, but I was frisked at the security checkpoints. At St. Louis, I showed my ID three times and went through all sorts of nonsense. I would have thought it would be the other way around.

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2001

well, i'm beginning to feel that a lot of what happens to us ( and trees, and rocks, and planets ) is pure chance. Tomorrow an asteroid may come and hit us. Or a car may strike me as i ride my bike to work. Or I may get sick. Or a subway accident. Or get shot in a crossfire. I usually like flying, but am accompanied by a small undercurrent of 'fear' of being so helpless trapped in a small metal tube up there. What if, etc. I suppose more of an irrational fear. As regards security, Jen has a point.. while it cannot prevent a determined terrorist, it does deter and restore confidence in travellers. How long this heightened security is gonna last is something else....

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2001

I've flown from Paris to San Francisco and back since September 11th. I was surprised to find that the security at Charles de Gaulle was so tight; historically, it's been awful. But there are about four different checkpoints, now; ticket control, then passport control, then metal detectors, then another ticket and passport check. When we boarded, there was a group of security agents, one per person, that asked detailed questions about reasons for travel and anything that you might have purchased in the airport, etc., all the way down the jetway. The only issue there was that few of the agents spoke good English, so people who couldn't speak French had to wait until an English speaking agent was free -- on a tourist-heavy flight to SFO, this caused some delays. Since I speak decent French, I got first dibs on the overhead bin, ha. That's reason number 4,423 to speak the language of the country you're visiting (or in my case, living in), I guess.

I thought SFO security was comparatively lax, since I was not interviewed on the jetway. In general, however, I didn't feel threatened on either flight. I've never liked flying, frankly, but I can't say I'm more frightened. I'm aware that a lot of the security that's been increased is invisible to passengers. I also believe that terrorist attacks wouldn't be very effective if they tried the same thing over and over again, so it's unlikely we'll see a repeat hijacking.

It is odd living in Paris as an American, though. I notice that the French police appear to have an easier time ramping up security, though, since there are fewer limits on police power. And they already had detailed anti-terrorist plans in place, many of which were implemented overnight. People ask me if I feel less safe overseas, and my family is concerned that we are not in the U.S. For me this is odd; I actually feel a lot safer being 8,000 miles away in a country that has experience dealing with terrorist attacks, though I am homesick more often.

-- Anonymous, October 12, 2001

It's been such a long time since I last flew; metal detectors didn't exist! However, I worked for some years in the security industry, and have some comments on the recent concerns. The biggest problem now is the public's confidence, which has been damaged. God forbid another, even small airline event happened. The airline, travel, resort, hotel, restaurant industries could be put even deeper in the cooler for years. That could domino into other industry sectors. Either way, it accomplishes a lot of what the terrorists wanted by creating terror and disrupting our economy. Much of what I've seen the government trying to do is mere show... not that there are any easy quick solutions.

1--Just like in politics or pop-culture, image is what 90% of the people respond to. If someone has charisma, good looks, whatever, it will sell an advertisement, a stupid TV show, or sell a congressman... the real deal on the underlying product, or real character of the politician is not a concern with most people. Same with security.... I really doubt that troops with M-16's will help anyone much unless there's an all-out assault inside the terminal. It "looks" good, (and that's important for appearances and psychological reasons), but it doesn't enhance "real" security much. It's not much of a deterence either; a determined terrorist is not going to turn around simply by the presence of a soldier. A cop sitting olong the side of the highway will deter speeders, but unless there's one every mile, it's not changing the overall speeding stats much... that's not to say it isn't useful.

2--The real problem to upgrading security to El-Al standards (and the resulting return of the public's confidence) is the pure numbers involved. El-Al has something like 30 planes... there are between 25K and 50K flights in the US daily. The amount of sky-marshalls needed to cover all of those with even one per plane, within a normal working (40hr) system, with properly trained people etc is HUGE. We're talking 50-100K employees, training, oversight responsiblities and structure, etc. The mind bogles at such a task. Every small store and restaurant today has help-wanted signs... where are we going to get tens of thousands of qualified air-marshalls? There should be a program to allow more already-licensed and qualified law-enforcement to board routine flights with their service weapon (incognito). This is currently often done only by those with federal licenses, and pilots and crew are aware of them on their flights... pilots have always had a very positive view of this in the past, knowing that a trained professional is on board for a worst case emergency. It may have stopped the 9-11 events if just one such person had been aboard each plane.

3--All those new rules for prohibitive items are mostly ridiculous...and a waste of time. Again, it makes an appearance of increased safety, but the reality is a trained person can use any common object as a deadly weapon (pen, glass, etc) and one's "hands" are quite enough to snap someone's neck to get the attention any high- jackers want. So, unless we put all passangers in handcuffs or straitjackets... just taking away your tweezers won't do much except make you a bit bitter when you think back on it. There are also ways to get almost any weapon through any checkpoint if you are determined to do it. Weapons are made and brought into prison, where strip and cavity searches are the norm. That ain't gonna happen at airports!

4--Checking ID's are as worthless as asking passangers if they have a bomb or weapon on them... "are you bringing a bomb this trip, sir?" Even a sophisticated international database of cross-referenced ID's is not foolproof because so many people would have access to it. Anyone familiar at all with hackers and computer crime knows this. Ask your local detectives about identity theft, credit card fraud, etc... it's becoming a huge problem. El Al uses good old Q & A with highly motivated and trained, experienced people... it's slow going but it's works because it's real, not for show. I can't imagine how many employees you'd need to cover all of our major airports. Even if you could afford to offer $60K+ in pay to attract the large number of smart people you'd need, it would be a logistical nightmare starting from where we are today. This isn't to say that checking ID's is worthless; it's a part of an overall strategy, but it must be coupled with sharp people who actually look closely at them. It won't foil determined sophisticated crooks.

5--Sealing the cockpits is the easiest first step to providing better safety. Good to see this is already being done post-haste. The recent nut who just walked into the cockpit of that Chicago flight ... those pilots should be made an example of by the FAA and suspended for being idiots.

6--This still leaves the biggest air-security hole wide open... the plane's maintenance personnel, who have access to the cabin and baggage compartments. This is probably how the Lockerbie plane had a bomb put on it (in Ger)... and it's probably going to be a future target of US based terrorists because the "fly the plane into buildings" thing is now history. If random planes started blowing up, it would further destroy the public's confidence of flying. Many of the baggage handlers at Logan are of mid-eastern descent... it's coming to light (FBI is still working on many of these leads) that many mid-easterners here had a "heads-up" of some kind about 9-11. This is a demographic group that must be looked at under a microscope... unfair as it be. It only takes one person who's got some resourcefullness, to defeat the system we now have.

7--I don't agree with those who place everything to "fate". Although you can't eliminate bad luck, you can certainly make choices to give yourself better odds. We do this every day... we don't drive drunk, we don't drive 70mph downtown, we slowdown when the roads are slick, we don't eat food that looks or smells bad, we don't play golf during lightening storms, etc... smart choices, and listening to your instincts will give you better odds.

-- Anonymous, October 13, 2001

So I made it back from my trip alive. Starting in Portland, the line at United ticket desk was 20 minutes long and the security line was an hour and twenty minutes. Good thing Portland's new airport light rail goes right by my house so I had no problem getting there two and a half hours early. I made it through with plenty of time to spare.

Since I'm a suspcious looking man, they singled out me for a random search. I think it's because I'm usually nervous in airports or something. They ran the metal detector over my body while they searched by backpack and laptop. What's really funny is they ask for permission to touch various parts of your body. It was hard not to laugh when the guy asked me if he could touch my ankles and lower back.

Coming back, the security at Norfolk International was disappointing. They seem to be relying on intimidation rather than searches. In the United terminal they have an area in front of the X-ray machines where two army guys in fatigues and guns stand and talk to passengers one by one. You stand behind a line until the large man with the gun calls you over. You walk about ten feet up to him and hand him your ID and your ticket and he asks you some seemingly pointless questions. If you don't speak with an accent or act suspcious, he waves you through. Then it's just the regular X-ray check with no apparent random searches. This took about ten minutes.

Since we were flying to Dulles and continuing to Portland, this was very very disappointing security. Cross country flights out of D.C. should have the best security, right? In Dulles they set up a random search area at the gate but the people they searched didn't seem random. They didn't search me. They didn't search the sweaty nervous guy who kept looking around and sat in first class right next to the cockpit door. Of course not. They searched three old ladies probably because they wouldn't mind being searched. This was completely pointless! I hope there was a marshal on that flight because that would have been our only hope.

-- Anonymous, October 18, 2001

Scott, on one of my recent flights, the check-in agent told me that they're doing random searches--when they print out your boarding pass, it has a three letter code on it and if you have a certain code, you'll get fully checked at the gate (the "non-checking code" is CLR--I don't know what the bad one is, because I haven't gotten it).

Also, I haven't gotten to this part in my journal entry, but on my trip home from O'Hare on Monday it took me literally five minutes to check in and get through security. They have automated check-in machines there (sort of like ATMs) where you answer security questions by pushing "yes" or "no" on the touch screen, and then it prints out your boarding pass. And there was no line at security! I got to the airport 2 hours early for nothing!

-- Anonymous, October 18, 2001

I am flying to Europe via JFK on December and come back on Christmas Eve. Because it is Christmas Eve and because an AA flight has crashed today, it scares me to death to fly now. I am even thinking of cancelling my flight now because I have always been scared of flying and now it is absolutely absolutely freaky for me.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

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