Flying Risk

marina_hyde_140x140.jpg Airport risk management:
It was while waiting to board a transatlantic flight from Heathrow last month, having been asked to show my papers at least six times more than one ever used to be, that a hopeless fantasy took root in my mind. As my handbag was overturned, I recalled reading recently that globally there were an estimated 27m scheduled flights a year. A little further along, as my 120ml bottle of contact lens cleaner was confiscated, I thought how few of them had met a hideous fate at the hands of terrorists. And as I later removed my shoes, recalling that the sole apparent justification for this was that one complete halfwit had failed to set fire to his trainers some years ago, I realised that I was willing to play these odds.

I’d risk flying with terrorists to escape this airport hell, Marina Hyde, The Guardian, 4 August 2007

But did anybody ask her (or us)?

What does she suggest doing about it in general?

When I finally emerged, I thought very seriously of approaching the BAA information desk, and proposing that all airports went two tier. One half of the airport would be a place where flights took off, and on time. The only catch would be that in this half, security measures would be analogous to those in place in British airports before September 11. Call it The Queue for People Willing to Take Their Chances.

Alas, the suggestion would probably have landed me in Guantánamo. Clearly, with our changing climate, the more reasons people have to hate airports the better. And the sooner we stop pretending air travel is a service industry – as opposed to a badly run nightmare world where every penalty and hardship is passed down to the little guy – the better.

So what airport security really accomplishes is scaring passengers enough that they’re afraid to make suggestions. Does that help protect us from terrorists? I think not. Who does it help?