Monday, August 31, 2009

The one about planes and metal detectors

I was talking aviation security with an international pilot recently, we were discussing the varying levels of security at different airports.

How come at one international airport I can swan through without setting off the metal detector, but yet at another one - wearing the same clothes -I get told very brusquely, 'Take off your belt and boots.' (I did refrain from, 'If you were going to request my jeans, I'm going to have to put my foot down') and, even without these items, promptly proceed to set off the metal detector?

He said that he noticed a huge difference from airport to airport. And that at one particular airport, despite the fact that they're familiar with the security staff, they remain incredibly strict with their searches of them.

Which, when you think about it, is kind of a waste of time - as he so rightly pointed out, 'If I wanted to take the plane down, I wouldn't need to smuggle anything on board - I'd be flying my weapon.'

I have to say, while I think our domestic security in New Zealand can be over the top, security on international flights does make me feel a little better about life in general. And when I read that there are calls in Bangkok to relax airport security I start to get a little twitchy.

Especially when you read that the reason Democrat MP Pichet Panwichartkul, is calling for the security review not because he's thinks the risk of terrorism on planes has diminished, but due to what appear to be fashion issues.

The former finance minister asked why passengers have to take off their belts at the checkpoint and then clumsily put them back on in public.

"How is it possible that a female foreign passenger must remove her jacket to reveal her light clothing underneath to go through the screening?" he asked.

Hmmm, call me butt-stupid Mr Panwichartkul, but don't you reckon if that jacket was carrying a gun or a knife, don't you think it's worth her having to reveal her light clothing?

Just a thought.


tinman18 said...

I have my own view on this, since I'm absolved from having to go through the metal detector.

I have a card that says I have a pacemaker, but in the 8 flights I've made since I got it no-one has actually asked to see the card, they've just taken my word for it, presumably on the basis that no bloke would voluntarily subject himself to a body-patting from another bloke unless he really did have a pacemaker.

And because it IS one guy patting down another, I can tell you that it's fairly basic, there are certain places that they just don't go near.

Mind you, there are probably certain places where even suicide bombers won't attach their bombs...

Holemaster said...

In Ireland, more and more people are going back to taking the car on ferries to France and the UK now. No airport bullshit, no delays, no baggage issues, no car hire. OK, so it takes almost a day to get to France but if you're going for two weeks, it makes sense.

laughykate said...

Tinman, if you ever wanted a career change - you could always consider becoming a terrorist.

Holemaster, I can so understand that. Airports can be such a nightmare - but great people watching.

Mwa said...

It all seems very random to me. I read in a blog the other day that someone was knitting on a plane, but I'm not allowed to take tweezers. Does not make sense.

laughykate said...

I can take my leatherman on board in NZ, now. (They always check it to make sure it doesn't have a lockable blade, but it always gets to come with me).