2.22.2009

Never feel safe flying again


Recently, I was in YVR reading an old issue of the Atlantic and my plane was delayed. So I finally got around to taking in the full details of Jeffrey Goldberg's article, "The Things He Carried" (November 2008), which I heard about on The Colbert Report earlier last year.

Goldberg traveled around through America's major airports exposing serious holes in the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) system. To say he got away with a lot is an understatement. Just a page in, Goldberg writes:
"On another occasion, at LaGuardia, in New York, the transportation-security officer in charge of my secondary screening emptied my carry-on bag of nearly everything it contained, including a yellow, three-foot-by-four-foot Hezbollah flag, purchased at a Hezbollah gift shop in south Lebanon. The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads Then surely the party of God are they who will be triumphant. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, “That’s a Hezbollah flag.” She said, “Uh-huh.” Not “Uh-huh, I’ve been trained to recognize the symbols of anti-American terror groups, but after careful inspection of your physical person, your behavior, and your last name, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are not a Bekaa Valley–trained threat to the United States commercial aviation system,” but “Uh-huh, I’m going on break, why are you talking to me?”"
Mmm yes, and then I got on the 20-year-old plane as it fought waves of turbulence for the full 2-hour+ flight. Between that, the tragedy in Buffalo, and my unreasonable paranoia, I could have sworn we were going to fall from the sky.

Ok, so the TSA is bad... how about airport security in the rest of the world? Well,
"Easyjet's rule seems strict and clear: its website and tickets insist "all passengers provide photographic ID at check-in on all flights, including domestic services". So when Arnie Wilson, a magazine editor from Haywards Heath, turned up at Gatwick this month for a flight to Edinburgh only to realise he had neither his passport nor his driving licence, he started to panic.

Check-in staff confirmed the requirements for photo ID but, as Wilson began to make plans to have his passport couriered from home, they offered a helpful alternative - he could make his own.

"They suggested I go to the railway station within the terminal, buy a season ticket and with it get a photocard, which they'd then accept as ID," Wilson said. "In fact, it was even easier and didn't cost a penny. Southern Rail gave me a photocard and sent me upstairs to the public photo booth. I asked if I needed to come back to the ticket office with the photos; they said, no, I should just fill in the card myself then seal down the plastic covering.""

--The Guardian, "Photo ID - how about this one I made earlier?"

3 comments:

Aaron Leaf said...

It was a bit too anti-Hezbollah for my taste. Also, wtf happened to the Atlantic front of book. It's total shit now.

ML said...

How so?
About the front of book...it sort of just disappeared. Still a good magazine, no?

Ish said...

I just found a lighter in my coat pocket that has been with me through Vancouver, Pearson, and Heathrow security checks. CLEARLY security breachin' ain't so hard.