back to article BA slams stupid security checks

The chairman of British Airways has said it is time to stop kowtowing to US demands on airport security. Speaking to the UK Airport Operators Association Martin Broughton said it was time to stop making people take their shoes off and remove laptops from bags for security checks. He also criticised US authorities for …


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  1. dave 46

    Duty free is banned?

    Surely duty free was allowed anyway, as it's purchased after going through security?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      yes. and no. No when you have a connecting flight at an airport which demands you go through security again before boarding. Schipol comes to mind.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: hmm

        "No when you have a connecting flight at an airport which demands you go through security again before boarding. Schipol comes to mind."

        Yes, shitty Amsterdam airport introduced extra "airside" security because the idiots responsible for the design of the place seemingly don't know who has been through security already, because they've just got off a plane from a country that actually does the checks, and who hasn't, because they've either just wandered in off the street (as far as we know) or arrived on a plane from a country that waves people through if they're chummy with the "security" people, and because the idiots responsible for deciding which routes should be served by Schiphol (Shitpol, more like) can't muster the backbone to tell various airlines and aviation authorities that it's "surface transport for you from now on" after the Nigerian bloke who connected via Amsterdam tried to blow himself up over the US, instead making everyone go through another search/pervscan and act out a scene from Uncle Sam's Security Theatre.

        Yes, it's all queues and impromptu screening equipment at Amsterdam Shitpol airport. Fly via a decent airport instead if you can.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: hmm

          "Yes, it's all queues and impromptu screening equipment at Amsterdam Shitpol airport. Fly via a decent airport instead if you can."

          My last experiance there, I got pulled because there was a non existant one litre bottle in my jacket. Blows belief...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Duty Free

      It's an issue if you change planes and end up land side as part of the connection, you then have 1L of duty free you can't then pass back through with.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      You'd think so

      Though having been stupid enough to buy AA cell batteries air side in O'Hare airport, I got the third degree for having them, and it took a very long time to convince them to let me take them in my hand luggage.

    4. Version 1.0 Silver badge


      If you fly out of the UK into the US then they will impound your duty free liquids when they re-screen you in Atlanta.

      1. JaitcH

        You get screwed at HKG and BKK

        If you transit through either HongKong or Bangkok your duty free is lost on US flights.

        A spot of cash will sort the problem out in BKK, but HKG rules coupled with the Chinese mentality is a real pain as they slavishly follow US security rules.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Version 1.0

        That's why they tell you several times on the plane, when you leave the plane and just before the re-screen that you must put all duty free into your bags. (Or at least they have every time I've been to Atlanta.)

        They're making a new terminal at Atlanta anyway, so international flights won't have to go through the rescreen.

        1. Peter Simpson 1

          In your checked luggage

          "That's why they tell you several times on the plane, when you leave the plane and just before the re-screen that you must put all duty free into your bags. "

          That's to make it easy for the baggage handlers to get their daily liquor allowance.

          About time someone called for some sanity regarding these security checks. Otherwise, we'll all be flying nude. While this may initially seem like an excellent idea, I have flown with many more people I would not like to see nude, than people I would enjoy seeing in that condition.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Peter Simpson 1

            For those who haven't traveled through Atlanta:

            You get off the plain, you pick up your hold luggage, you walk a little bit across the airport, they then do another security scan on you (this is where you need your duty free in your hold bagage) they take your hold bagage, you go through the security check and then are re-united with you hold luggage what seems like ages later.

    5. Paul RND*1000


      Flying CLT->EWR->BFS this summer, we stayed air-side all the way, passing through security only at CLT. In fact our arrival gate in Newark was right next to the gate we would depart from.

      On the return journey, we exited the secured area after arriving at Newark, then had to go back through security again to get to the connecting flight.

  2. Jo 5

    war on flab

    How dumb. Anyways - in my experience you DO have to take your shoes off at every US airport routinely and are subjected to over officious idiots at the airport asking if you have eaten a bomb for breakfast and racially stereotyping anyone with even a nice tan. When i fly out there from Schiphol there is no shoe business or degrading treatment at the Amsterdam end.

    I do think we should make all yanks go through the same ESTA bollocks that they make all of their ancestor nations go through. Tit for tat etc.

    And re the war on terror - maybe they should start a war on flab as their gluttonous and endemic obesity is killing far more yanks than Osama/Obama could ever hope to.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The iPad?

    Tablet PCs have had to be taken out of bags since the rules came in. Admittedly the iPad is a bit of a special case, being essentially an oversized iPod, but still- it's a Lithium-battery equipped bit of computing hardware and has a 10" screen. It definitely comes under the "remove it" category.

    Saying that, given that they're being scanned with x-rays surely there isn't much need to remove it from the bag unless it's lead lined?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      you're expecting logic from the TSA?

      SFO says you can keep laptops in bags if there's nothing else in the bag, but wants shoes off. Schipol wants the laptop out of the bag, but doesn't care about shoes. Heathrow isn't even consistent between adjacent scanner positions. Neither SFO nor AMS even noticed the iPad-sized e-reader that was in my main hand luggage.

      None of those plonkers could find a bomb even if it was big, round, and had a spluttering fuse attached.

      1. dssf

        Wear disposable socks...

        I wear TWO pairs of socks for this security theater BS of having to take off the shoes. It's creepy enough sitting in a plane seat that could have bedbugs or head lice (STD or grade-schooler variety). But, i'll be DAMNED if i'm going to stand barefoot on a pad that could have fungus amongus transferring to my feet. After passing the shoe-scan, i didtch the exposed pair of socks into a rubbish bin. And, no, i don't carry those socks out with me. Sometimes, i use hand sanitizer on the tubs before putting my stuff into them. Actually, TSA should be sanitizing those things in case someone walked into urine or fecal matter in the airport toilet rooms.

        On one flight, i went through a whole-body scan, I think in Dallas. No need to remove shoes. It puffed air out at me (anyone in the "chamber/threshold") and suckers pull in some air and analyze it. It probably is quite expensive. Something like that could be made for shoes, where the passenger stands into a weight-strengthened tray that wraps a seal (think of the blood pressure band wrapped around your arm, or some sort of photo bellows) around the calves (for boots wearers) or ankles (low cut shoes), and let it sniff feet. Of course, SOME funky fliers (non-bathing/non-showering types, like a few i had to endure in Tokyo some years back who arrived unclean at the hostel-- no, not a day or two missed shower, but like hiked and didn't bathe a WEEk kinda odor-- fungaloid-cheesaloid type of odor) will probably crash the machine because SOME engineering genious may not think to do a foot-funk-anti-fail test...

        Security theater is a waste of money, especially when travelers have to redundantly purchase items already at home or when they pump up sales at local stores such as Walgreens, CVS, etc.). But, it's definitely a way for airliners to force people to travel lighter...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE:Wear disposable socks

          Okay... Id go and see a Dr about that level of OCD. You probably don't want to be flying at all if you are that worried. Have a look at cabin air recirculation...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Cameras don't need to be taken out of your bag. Nor do eBook readers.

      It's a complete farce and sadly it's spreading. Until now Iceland has been entirely sane about screening passengers, but last week it was shoes off and laptops out at Keflavik.

      1. Paul RND*1000

        Cameras don't need to be taken out of your bag?

        Um, depends. Though "farce" is an excellent word to describe it overall. My last trip out from the US and back showed all kinds of inconsistency here too.

        Charlotte security heading out did not require the camera out of the bag at all and hand-inspected the film I was carrying on request (I will praise TSA here; they are really very good about this and have consistent, logical rules that they do follow. Of course it's not something they have to do very often these days, which probably helps.)

        Going through re-screen at Newark on the way home the film was hand inspected as requested but they required the same "all gear out of bag, into trays, rescan" on the camera equipment itself.

        Belfast International scanned the camera bag, insisted on scanning the film when I requested a hand inspection, then proceeded to take every piece of camera equipment out, load it into trays, rescan it and the film (a second time) and then swab it for explosive residue. With hindsight, I probably should have just said "OK, fair enough" when he told me the scanner was safe for film, instead of my actual response of "it bloody well better be".

        Mind you, this is with a camera that was built when these things were made mostly of metal and on top of that it was equipped with a motordrive stuffed full of 12 AA cells. Who knows what it looked like on the X-ray! I've also seen someone almost get in trouble while carrying a small digicam housed in an underwater enclosure.

        The film, incidentally, survived the over-zealous BFS security.

      2. Push the red button Igor ...

        except ...

        Except in Dublin, where a "film" camera caused some confusion and had to be re-screened twice!

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    Security theatre

    Bruce Schneier calls the gratuitous, obvious, unbending application of security checks "security theatre". They look impressive and reassuring but do they do actually justify themselves in terms of cost, inconvenience and increased security?

    For example, if everyone has to fish out their laptops, liquids, shoes, belts etc. at the airport security gate it creates huge delays and expense. At peak times the result is a huge, tightly packed queue of people all waiting to pass through the scanners. This is a rich target for a suicide bomber and it isn't hard to imagine how a couple of suicide bombers could cause carnage and shutdown a country without having to pass a single security check.

    So by imposing all these extra checks airports have replaced one risk with arguably an even worse one. Perhaps the answer is to allow officers to randomly screen people to keep the line moving. How screening is done "randomly" is open to debate but let's be honest here - there are certain kinds of people who are going to fit the profile of terrorist more than others. Therefore it seems appropriate to have some level of random selection by machine and then further random screening and threat assessment based on a security officer's discretion. At the end of the day it's no worse than screening everyone, even for the people randomly selected.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is there?

      "there are certain kinds of people who are going to fit the profile of terrorist more than others" What would that be then? I realy want to know, as I get the feeling your wrong.

      1. Adam Williamson 1

        The only statistically valid answer I've seen... 'engineers'. I'm not sure how you determine that at a glance, though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Time for any software engineers out there to become software developers then.

  5. Tony S

    Time for common sense?

    There is an unbelievable amount of hysteria over air transport, particularly amongst septics that are due to fly outside of the continental USA. The reality is that each one of them is at far greater risk of being killed in an auto accident on the way to the airport, than they are of being in an terrorist related event on board of a plane.

    Most of the passenger security is pretty pointless - it has been proven by numerous journalists that most airport security can be breached by fairly determined criminals that just want to steal your luggage. (And this happens a lot more often than we hear about)

    But no doubt the agencies that are employed off the back of the implementation of these security systems will want to maintain that they do a good job and will try to frighten people into accepting yet more ridiculous "security controls".


  6. jake Silver badge

    The entire "security theatre" is a joke.

    For a start, there are no "terrorists". So-called "terrorists" are a weapon of mass distraction.

    Time to get real, people ... Wasting money in the name of 9/11 is just that ... wasting money. It does absolutely nothing for the safety of the traveling masses ...

    ... but it does keep 'em cowed. Which is kinda the point, methinks.

    It's an election year here in the USofA. I am reading up on the issues, figuring out how they will affect me & mine, and I will be voting. Hopefully most of my fellow citizens can say the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      USoA elections always annoy me greatly

      I understand that the most important part of the elections in the land of the free, home of the brave, is the entertainment part. Mostly consisting of flinging poo and making promises everybody knows will be broken within the hour after the swearing-in ceremony. The positions are rarely more than a couple of milimetres apart and put in terms of a world-view that, when not incomprehensible to the rest of the world, shout "we know you're not going to vote on this anyway", because too many people vote for their fave colour and that, as they say, is that.

      Worst of all, the people it'll likely affect worst don't get to vote. They will be bombarded with "news" about the events yonder like it would make a difference, but really, it doesn't. These are the people that are just about invisible and therefore incomprehensible aliens to most of the people that do get to vote, because they're across the borders and overseas.

      And then there's the thing so poorly hidden under paper trail futzing justified by computerising the process, that is the election fraud. And then there is that the system is gerrymandered and otherwise manipulated into complete ruin.

      It's a far cry from the founding fathers' ideals and has absolutely nothing on the so-called "better educated voter" they envisioned.

      So why bother? Wake me at the end of the show and tell me whether we're fscked black eye purple or gangrene green. It really doesn't matter this way or another.

    2. Adam Williamson 1

      Erm, what?

      "For a start, there are no "terrorists". So-called "terrorists" are a weapon of mass distraction."

      What do *you* call people who destroy large buildings full of civilians, marketplaces full of civilians, public spaces full of civilians (hello, Mr. McVeigh) or try to blow up airplanes with bombs in their shoes, then? Accountants?

      Fair enough to be annoyed by security theatre, but saying 'there are no "terrorists"' is really pushing it a bit.

      1. Goat Jam
        Big Brother

        False Flag Operation

        "What do *you* call people who destroy large buildings full of civilians, marketplaces full of civilians"

        I call them "Government operatives"

        See Loose Change 2nd Edition

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Goat Jam

          Your an ideot. Go walking down the falls road some time and then tell me its the Government.

          That will show you real evidence, not some conspiricy rubbish.

      2. jake Silver badge

        What do I call 'em? Pseudo-random paranoid fanatics.

        "What do *you* call people who destroy large buildings full of civilians, marketplaces full of civilians, public spaces full of civilians (hello, Mr. McVeigh) or try to blow up airplanes with bombs in their shoes, then? Accountants?"

        I also call them statistically meaningless events brought about by politically & religiously intolerant xenophobic nutcases. I do not view them as a sound base with which to format national security measures.

        But if you want to live in fear that Bin Laden's few educated loons who were capable of actually learning to fly big jets *AND* were willing to die for the cause not only can be, but SHOULD be lumped under the same umbrella as McVeigh, right-wing Republican Catholic, and decorated Desert Storm veteran that he was ... Well, I personally don't want to live with what I perceive as your paranoid world-view. Life's too short.

        (Before anyone says it, yes, I feel for the friends & families of the deceased. I'm not a monster. Nobody should have to go thru' what they did ... And for the record, everyone I know in the offices of Sun Microsystems got out of the WTC alive ... Would my opinion change otherwise? Quite honestly, I don't know. But I seriously doubt it. Random events have rarely riled me up emotionally.)

      3. LaeMing


        more accurate to say, "direct effects of terrorist activity are insignificant to the population en masse." Of course that sort of attitude pervading society would counter terrorism - who wants to be a two-years-later-forgotten pointless drop in the ocean for a cause?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the chairman of BA...

    ... would be willing to put his money where his mouth is and pay millions to anyone and everyone injured as a result of a bomb or terrorist on a BA flight? Can we have a line just for terrorists and let them fly on the chairman's plane?

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      The airport security

      Is the responsibility of the airport operator and not of the airlines.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Does it hurt?

      You can't be that stupid and not feel a thing, or?

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


        don't feed the troll

  8. Raumkraut

    By Jove, I think he's got it

    However, I suspect that some people are going to start pushing hard for "everyone gets perv-scanned".

    1. Dan 10
      Thumb Down


      I got perv-scanned at the weekend going to Dublin. And metal-detected. And frisked. And had to take my shoes off. And got a wand waved all over me.

      After all that, I still beeped (probably button fly on my jeans) so they just gave up. I was inclined to take my trousers off right there to make a point. Jobsworth turds.

      1. dssf

        Doesn't the TSA prohobit silicone-rubbery-like objects?

        I'd love to read in the news about someone inserting a rubber adult toy into an orifice and going through a "perv scanner". Even if the object is not made of prohibited material, it'd be funny to see if the flier is rejected because some human inspecter becomes offended (or, off-ended)...

        Come to think of it, as the perv scanner takes off, more and more DARING people should fly with fly-safe sex toys inserted. (For some of you en(d)terprising types, this could be a tidy little short-term business opportunity...)

        Just don't confuse silicone and silicon...

    2. FoolD
      Big Brother


      > However, I suspect that some people are going to start pushing hard for "everyone gets perv-scanned".

      They say one thing that implies understanding (and even common sense) but in reality do the opposite.

      To some, airport secutiry was never about catching terrorists. Rather it's about control - and conditioning the population to accept more of it. The more demeaning the better, so to these people perv scanning is perfect.


  9. Steve 13

    duty free

    Has always been allowed in hand luggage. Where else would it go when you can't purchase it until after your hold baggage has been deposited.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: duty free

      and then the wonders of EasyJet / RyanAir come in... two bags sir? That'll be another £60.

    2. David Evans

      And there you find the flaw...

      Most duty free is bought after check in, but if you transit through Heathrow for instance (as I was from Jo'burg to Dublin) the only way you'll be able to keep your booze is if you go ground side and come back through security. The annoying thing was, I actually asked if this was going to be an issue when I was in Jo'Burg and they said it wouldn't be.

      Its great to see the likes of BA and BAA calling shenanigans on all this shit; even if they do have a vested interest in doing so.

  10. Owen Sweeney

    It's not just the Yanks..

    I was coming through Leeds?Bradford on my way to Dublin with 2 pieces of speaker cable (12" in length each) in my carry on, when they were confiscated. They could be used for binding, I was told. The two trouser belts, phone charger, laptop power adapter and shoe-laces were all ignored.

    Thank goodness they're so eagle-eyed.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Laptop security cable

      I went through US security soon after 9/11. I got the random screening treatment and a security officer took issue with a laptop security cable I had packed in the bag. Unusually he applied some common sense and let me through after demonstrating that it might be used as a garrotte. I suppose it could too but then again a regular power flex would probably do the job adequately. Or a pair of tights (if questioned just say you feel a little bit kinky).

      Interestingly, the seat belts in aircraft are easy to detach and expect these could make a handy weapon in a pinch.

      1. dssf

        Garrotte? Meh, nevermind using a belt or charger or seatbelt

        Just whip and swing it around like Jet Li or some star/dagger-wielding martial arts expert. Of course, headrests and overhead bins will limit the twirl & whirl diameter, unless you can heli-spin and knick a few skull tops hear and there. But, really, how far can one go before being tackled?

        In Feb 2001 i was denied brinking a pair of plastic handcuffs. These were red with Valentines hearts stampled on them. They were KID-SAFE. And still, the security checker stopped me from bringing them aboard. Keep in mind that this was BEFORE 9/11. I asked here what prospective hostage would go along with "imposed" captivity by plastic, kid-safe handcuffs. They were a gag for a girl i was flying out to meet. But, still the checker said no. I think she called a supervisor to parrot the airliner security statement. They let me keep the cons and the mini-packets of lube. But, since 9/11 i've not brought those onto a flight, hehehe... Might be able to salve one up and stretech it over the heads of fliers and suffocate them or worse, humiliate them in undo fashion...

    2. Paul Stimpson

      Consistency would be nice...

      @Owen Sweeney

      I can better that...

      I had 3 boxes of batteries confiscated at an airport on the Indian Subcontinent on the grounds that they could be used to power a bomb. The security screener told me I could keep all the rechargeable batteries I had because they were too expensive and he wasn't allowed to confiscate them. I guess they haven't thought of terrorists using NiMH/phone/laptop batteries...

      At a Middle-Eastern airport a screener took the Kensington lock for my laptop off me on the grounds I could use it as a noose. I kicked up a stink and he said it was the airline's policy, not the airports. I persuaded him to give it to the flight crew so I could collect it from them when I got off the plane. After a long flight I forgot the lock. I put in a lost property report to the airline and was told they had it. I was flying the next week and they said they would return it to me at the airport. I called and a nice guy brought it to the terminal and proceeded to hand it over to me at the airside customer service desk. This kind of makes a nonsense of the airline saying I shouldn't have it on the plane.

      1. 100113.1537

        totally arbitrary

        My laptop security cable was confiscated in Dubai, but only on the second time I went through security that day (had to "leave" to get a new boarding card). This after approximately 200 flights over four years with it in my hand luggage.

        Essentially, security screening is arbitrary depending on the airport/screener - there was even a story the other week from Norway where a woman was asked to remover her bra because of the under-wire. The airport accepted that 'their scanner was very sensitive" - so which airports have less-sensitive scanners?

        At the same time, US domestic is as bad as anywhere else so this is just an anti-american rant from the chairman of BA. Security concerns have completely taken over day-today life. Did you know that the Eurostar trains from Paddington now have a 45 minute check-in time so that you can go through the same security screening? This removes half of their supposed advantage over the flights to Paris and Brussels.

  11. ByeLaw101

    Manchester Airport

    I was at Manchester Airport last week, the security checks although a bit wierd didn;t last long. The thing I was annoyed about was having to turn up two hours early for my flight only to have to wade through a zig zag of shops with the airports synical attempt to grab more money off me.

    Do we really need to turn up two hours earlier, for the sake of security?

    1. Paul RND*1000

      Ever flown an early morning international departure?

      It's a joke.

      "Be at the airport 3 hours early" they say.

      I got there 2.5 hours before the flight. Then had to wait for an hour anyway until the check-in desk opened.

      That was the last time I bothered obeying that particular rule. Now I show up 1.5 hours before departure. Nobody has ever said anything about it.

      1. Adam Williamson 1

        it's not a rule...'s a recommendation. the 'rule' is the cut-off time for check in, which is much later. The point of the recommendation is that if you *don't* show up two hours early, then you miss your flight because they had a backlog at check in or whatever and you didn't make it, and you ask for your money back, they can say 'ah, but you didn't follow the time recommendations' and refuse to give it to you. But it's not a rule, and it's never cited as such in any airline stuff I've read.

    2. Equitas
      Thumb Down

      Ever tried

      Sydney International? :-(

  12. Pat M
    Thumb Up

    About time

    About time, and from BA the crappest of airlines!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      BA the crappest?

      You don't get out much, do you? Flown United's unfriendly skies recently? Or tried Air France's tired old 747's with broken seats & snooty "service"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Air france snooty?

        Weird.. I found them helpful and strangely efficient for Gallic types. Friendly, too, lots of smiles and solicitous offers of drinks and the like...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Never flown

          Ryan Air, or Alitallia short hall, Monarch, or many others. BA arnt that bad.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. About time

      BA the "crappest"? You obviously haven't flown Delta! The last delta flight I took (July this year) had the in-flight entertainment screen mounted upside down!

    3. Tempest

      BA cabin crew treat PAX like morons then claim harassment if you tell them to shut up

      BA cabin crews have a monopoly on arrogance.

      They treat boarding PAX like children, insisting they have to read your boarding pass to tell you where to sit, as if BA has a unique numbering scheme. Their whole attitude is demeaning and here I am making a half-way-around the globe trip on air miles which means I have flown before. A few times.

      Never use them now, bankruptcy is what they need.

      1. JaimieV

        British flights seem to always do that stub check

        while pretty much no other nation's airlines do. It's not a BA-specific thing, they certainly have no monopoly on arrogance, bad service, or losing luggage!

        1. BorkedAgain

          I don't know...

          I rather like BA. Certainly not the worst of a bad bunch. Always happy to slip you another tiny bottle of free vino, too... ;)

  13. Anonymous Coward

    one does not expect...

    common sense to be waved around like that.

    More please.

    1. hj

      but what about

      my false sense of security?!

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Rogerborg

    No mention of perv scanners, I notice

    I guess once you're nuking us until our junk glows in the dark, everything else really IS redundant.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    Sure I won't be the only one to complain about the rest of the world kow-towing to ridiculous UK security paranoia about taking liquids on the plane? Just got back from Rhodes where after security it costs 3 and a half euros for a coke! I suppose this daft rule has some commercial upsides for the airports so they won't be scrapping it any time soon.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Better still

    Maybe go the whole hog and stop kowtowing to the fear pimps in the 'security' industry and the raft of others with a vested interest in playing up threats for their own personal or institutional gain - the airlines themselves are not averse to playing the security card if it cuts costs or shuts up complaining passengers.

    Paris - better by train.

  18. freekyeekz
    Thumb Up

    Could it be?

    Finally, an outbreak of common sense?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can I have my RFID-free passport back then please? That too was "kowtowing to the Americans".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters


      the RFIDdler:

      (I shall also point out that a chipped passport with a non-functional chip is a perfectly valid travel document).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's a hack, not a solution

        My government still doesn't hand out passports without taking my fingerprints /and then also storing them in a database/ for no good reason. In fact, even before that got implemented the scope got goatsed up in scope from "anti forgery"* and "no law enforcement, honest" to "oh and law enforcement, too, of course". It's clearly just a matter of time before they think of something else next. So I can't get a passport without getting treated like a criminal-without-rapsheet. And that is exactly why I want the whole thing rooted out entirely, starting with the bloody chip.

        If my government refuses to be trustable I reserve the right not to trust it with my data. OCR-B really is more "machine readable" than necessairy already. So. RFID-free passport please.

        * That is a damn lie and clearly won't work, as amply argued /and/ demonstrated already.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's right, to an extent

    It's long been more about theatre than security. But to say as much in public is a bit strange. Why has he done this, and why now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not much, a spot late, no?

      I'm assuming he doesn't want to get crucified as a terrorists' bumboy, as there's his cosy job and pension to think about, but he doesn't like to have to pay through the nose for what so painfully obviously is security theatre. I mean if even the security guards quit because what they're doing is clearly not helpful to anyone or anything....

      It means that he's thinking change is upon the winds. Let's hope he's right. It's taken long enough.

  21. robert 15


    I flew from glasgow to sydney this month, and brought with me a can of Irn Bru. At security, when they were handing out those plastic bags for liquiids, i put my 330ml can in it, as a piss take really. I then placed it in the tray, along with my laptop. It got through security at all 3 of Glasgow, Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur.. I had to laugh.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Irn Bru

      Irn Bru should be exempt from security. It's clear that no-one would dare to meddle with such a hallowed beverage.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        I love this whole plastic bag charade!

        Imagine terrorist coming to the airport, and to their horror they find out: OH NO!! They have plastic bags! All are plans are down the toilet!

      2. Steve Evans


        They wouldn't let me out of the UK with a 125g pot of Marmite.

        I tried to explain the difference between a 100ml measure of liquid volume and 125g measure of mass, but had to admit defeat in the face of overwhelming stupidity.

        1. Adam Williamson 1

          freeze it

          after all, it's not a liquid then.

          (I've been wanting to try carrying a bag containing a litre of frozen orange juice through security for a while. Anyone done it?)

  22. Drem

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits. - Dear Sirs...

    "The European Union yesterday certified an X-ray liquid scanner made by Kromek for use at all airports which means that by April 2011 duty free purchases will again be allowed in hand luggage." - I thought that the article on this had made it quite clear that duty free could already be carried on, and that what this would mean was that greater volumes of liquid could now be taken to airside rather than being confiscated...

    but maybe not :)

  23. Is it me?

    A Radio 4 Funny

    Lord West was asked on Radio 4 this morning why some Airports considered an iPad a Laptop, and others did not, and what was the difference.

    As the last governments "Security & Counter terrorism Adviser" you might think he would know the answer, however he ducked the question, pity, it would be nice to know that such an august person at least had some grasp of the technical details.

    A bit of a non-story really, we all know the checks are silly, but no one in their right mind will remove one until they are 1000% certain there won't be any comeback on them if the next terrorist through London uses a method that would have detected by a now redundant check. Oh, and we have to Kowtow to the Yanks do as we say not as we do attitude.

    Well said Martin.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I was speaking to a chap...

    ...who advises on security for the government. Apparently most airports can't detect inorganic nitrates meaning some explosives like black powder, aka gun powder, are pretty much undetectable. Needless to say this information isn't widely publicised on the net, although there is mention of it here:

    Considering you can walk in to any newsagent here and buy any number of cardboard tubes filled with the stuff I'd say this makes airport security a bit of a joke. Fill your pockets with the stuff and, with a plastic bottle and a lighter, you've got yourself a big enough bomb to blow a nice hole in the side of an aircraft.

    Recently, security (at airports especially) is nearly always the result of some knee-jerk reaction to something that's happened. I see very little evidence of it actually being planned and thought out properly. It's about time someone with some clout spoke up and got a proper debate on it going, rather than the current system of "we know best, don't question us" that is in place.

    AC for obvious reasons... not that it'll help much... I wonder how many words in that lot rang alarm bells at GCHQ and Langley?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "I wonder how many words in that lot rang alarm bells at GCHQ and Langley?"

      Probably some at GCHQ.

      Their partners are the NSA based at Fort Meade MD.

  25. Daniel 1

    You know what we need, right now?

    It's another chairman, from a company with a 'B' in it's name, where the 'B' stands for 'British' (but the company is no longer, officially, British) making less-than-tactful remarks that piss of the American Government.

    He's right, of course, but using words like 'kowtow' won't help things along, at all. Maybe this former executive of British American Tobacco could have found further references to British Imperial Colonialism that didn't, specifically, bring to mind the Opium Wars, but other, wider, abuses in general? (Anything to do with our time in Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii, or even County Offaly, Ireland, would probably have been better calculated to go down well with Barak Obama, personally.)

    And perhaps he could have added observations about how, getting in and out of some American airports, now involves rituals that are actually more elaborate (but similar in kind), to getting in and out of the holy sites of Mecca? The Tea Party would definitely react in a rational and reasoned way, to that sort of talk!

    Say it, by all means - because it surely needs saying - but with a language like English you have so many words to choose from... Could he have chosen them more carefully?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pray tell, why?

      America is now the world's colonial empire. So we spell it "world police superpower". It's the same thing, just slightly different means of coercion. But it still is "drop your pants NOW" type coercion, and we still believe they are our "friends". You can hear them laugh right over the pond. No, they're not laughing /with/ us, silly.

      So what have they done for us lately? Lied to us, gotten us stuck in wars even they don't know how to get out of nevermind win, championed reduction of civil liberties (oh irony), plainly shat on international laws (gitmo, others), antagonised the entire near east subcontinent even more, and gotten a lot of people killed. Need I go on?

      Their department of state calls this "reciprocity". Anybody who isn't trying to be their "friend" would call it "throwing their weight around", "bullying", or perhaps "fscking up by the numbers".

      We might as well say whatever we think. As far as they're concerned, it doesn't make a whit of difference whatsoever. Everybody will bend over backwards to them anyway. Like you do: "Let's not piss them off, please." So I say: Pray tell, why?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Daniel 1

      Your over sensitivity to the word Kowtow is ridiculous. Plus the point is that it's time to stop kowtowing the the Americans and picking out every word that might just offend someone with an overdeveloped victim mentality is just kowtowing isn't it?

      (See how useful that word is?)

  26. HP Cynic

    Well said

    Well I'm glad to see someone with possible influence making these statements: let's hope they implement some changes i.e. remove most of the ridiculous checks.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Top Marks

    WTF? He sounds almost sensible! How did he get that job?

  28. ShaggyDoggy

    Underpants !!!

    1. Incident with shoe bomb - now have to take off shoes

    2. Incident with liquid bomb - now can't take liquids in

    3. Incident with underpants bomb - no action


    1. Jimbo 6

      Now if I worked in security...

      I'd have taken action on that last risk, long ago.

      Party of 18-25 year old ladies on their way to Shagaluf ? Definitely suspicious. Best to get them all to remove their underwear. Then I'll confiscate it for...err...analysis later.

      Mine's the one with the pockets full of, ahem, lacy handkerchiefs.

    2. Steven Jones

      "3. Incident with underpants bomb - no action"

      Wrong - full body scanners being introduced, albeit not universally.

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: 3. Incident with underpants bomb - no action

        Pity, I think any terrorist who wants to set fire to their own genitalia, and cook their DNA from the gene pool should be allowed to do it.

  29. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Stupid "security"

    Last time I flew from Heathrow, there was a "security" person who would not let me pass until I put all of my carry-on into ONE bag. I was only allowed 1 bag, and it was a "security" risk if I did otherwise (anyone else seen the hilarious clip of the American bloke who got tape from the BA counter and taped his 2 bags together to get through "security"?)

    After that, I had to pass another "security" person who made me take my laptop out of my ONE bag. This had to be done for "security". Then when they scanned my ONE bag, they couldn't work out what was in my ONE bag, because it had everything in it, and they then made me take out every single piece so that they could scan it all separately.

    So the conclusion: If it isn't all in ONE bag, then it's a "security" risk, but if it is ONE bag they cannot scan it properly, so it is a "security" risk. To be honest the incompetence there worries me more than any "terrorist".

    As for shoes; at Frankfurt they asked me to sit down and they took my shoes to the machine. In Bristol they make you walk around barefoot for about 200m over quite a disgusting floor that everyone else walks over.

    1. Adam Williamson 1


      Wot, no socks?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Similar nonsense at Bangalore airport

      I have a backpack which unzips into two pieces, one of which makes a handy briefcase for meetings. I usually put my wanted-on-flight stuff (book etc.) into that, so I can unzip the main backpack & put it in the overhead bin, keeping the small one at my seat.

      At Bangalore it was scanned through security, and tagged. In the gate lounge I unzipped the two bits, but when I tried to board I was pulled out because one of my two bags wasn't tagged. I tried to explain, but to no avail.

      Did they ask me to rescan the untagged small bag? No, they just made me zip the two pieces together so that I had a single tagged bag, before they'd let me onto the airbridge, where I promptly unzipped them again. Numpties (but armed numpties, so I wasn't going to argue).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The reason for one bag is not security

        but space. They have always (well, for many years) limited people to 1 carry on bag due to over head locker space. If you realy want to be a pain ask them why women are aloud two bags...

        1. Equitas

          Ask them why women are allowed two bags ?

          That's easy, Anonymous Coward ........... they're (Bulgarian) air bags, of course

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    common Sense

    Common sense would the be sell a large amount of the expensive security crap (back scatter for instance) and get more trained sniffer dogs. I'll admit it may take a while to get the number you need but they're several hundred times more useful then all these rubbish little scanning devices.

    Then the scanning goes back to looking for old fashioned weapons and we can all get back to living normal lives.

    Your only real risk then is someone hiding a bag of explosives up his arse, and none of the exciting scanning stuff will pick that up anyway.

    1. MeRp

      Sniffer Dogs

      A trained sniffer dog would find explosives hidden in various bodily orifices as well. In the Philippines they have at least one dog stationed at the entrance (before any other security, in fact) to the airport. He(or she) and his toady (handler) stand there and just kind of watch/sniff as people pass by.

      Even this is, effectively, theater, but at least it doesn't slow the traffic down.

  31. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    At last...

    ... a statement from the Department of Realising the Bloody Obvious!

    As Lewis Page wrote in El Reg a year or so ago, there are numerous ways that terrorists *could* launch attacks on Aircraft, Airports and many other such things, yet, somehow, those attacks haven't happened.

    This is just another demonstration that the "Security Threat" we are being peddled by fear-mongers who see it as a way to increase their little empires is grossly over-exaggerated and it's about time we took a big step back and looked *sensibly* at the situation.

  32. kain preacher

    @Underpants !!! #

    3. Incident with underpants bomb - no action


    THats cause the want some thing to hold onto when they screw you .

  33. Pinkerton

    Proving that terrorists are dumb and security services dumber...

    I've never understood why terrorists are so keen to blow up planes anyway. Why not just let the bomb off in the airport? You'll save yourself the price of a ticket which means you won't show up on any watch-lists (*and* the saved money can go towards the nibbles at your funeral - bonus).

    The airport terminal would be closed for weeks. A coordinated attack in all terminals at all major airports and you've grounded planes for longer than 9/11 ever did and you don't even have to go near a security check.

    If that were to happen, the next step by the security services would be to have a perv scanner and shoe-sniffer outside the airport to stop bad guys entering. Then all the terrorists need to do is blow *that* queue up.

    ...or a Premier League football match.

    ...or a music concert or festival.

    ...or the next anti-government demo.

    ...and so on.

    What's the fascination with planes and why are both the terrorists and security forces obsessed with them? The latter should really be concentrating on these far more obvious threats in case our not very bright, thickie terrorists get a clue.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      From a motorway bridge. Rinse Lather Repeat.

    2. Vincent Ballard
      Thumb Up

      Why planes?

      This has puzzled me for a while too. I think partly it's a question of capitalising on the fact that many people are already nervous about flying.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why 'planes?

      You can't hijack a London underground train or a number 30 bus and blow it up in the USA.

  34. Alex Johnson 1
    IT Angle

    Ironic - do you eat your own dog food?

    Couldn't agree more with BA - an airline better than most, and saying what should be said.

    But this site is chock-full of IT professionals. The same people who in many cases lock down anything and everything (except their own PC's of course, as they are the experts...) in the name of "security" threats and a Gilt-edged approach to compliance. I hope that the common sense being suggested for the goose is also good for the gander. Not holding my breath though.

    1. Red Bren

      Different problem, different response

      Attacks on corporate IT are real, frequent, credible and quantifiable. Locking down the environment is a justifiable response. Fingerprinting and perv-scanning staff would not be.

      The "terrorist threats" that are used to justify this security theatre are potential, infrequent, incredible or imaginary. Even at the peak of the PIRA's activity, the attitude was "Give up our way of life and the terrorists win." Now it seems that trying to set fire to your own testicles is enough to strike fear into the authorities.

  35. Anonymous Coward


    and why is that I can wear a thick jumper through security, but if I have a thin cardigan I have to take it off as it's classed as a coat because it has a zip.

  36. JaitcH

    Don't use checked baggage for lithium batteries!

    ALWAYS hand carry lithium batteries - they can cause a real vicious fire.

    I carry them in in plastic water piping with a glued cap on one end and a push-fit cap on the other. The pipes are about 6 battery lengths long. Used batteries are positive to the bottom and charged are positive to the opening.

    Security types seem to appreciate the arrangement, and they are safe from shorting.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      you've lost me

      a plastic tube with something glued to one end and batteries in it, and security appreciate you carrying that?

      1. JaitcH

        All the batteries in a tube are ...

        easier to scan, and are safe from shorting.

        Better than having to hunt for loose batteries.

    2. Adam Williamson 1

      that's funny...

      I carry mine attached to a storage device I like to call 'my laptop', as do millions of other people every day, and I haven't heard of one burning down an airport (or a plane) yet.

      How's that tin foil hat fitting you?

      1. Jim Morrow
        Black Helicopters

        no tinfoil hats required

        Er, lithium batteries *are* considered hazardous. Special rules apply to bulk shipments by air. It's thought they were a material factor in the UPS cargo flight that crashed in Dubai last month. So much so that the FAA issued a SAFO notice about lithium batteres a couple of weeks ago. Here's the link:

        Admittedly the SAFO applies to carrying shitloads of lithium batteries as cargo. Though how the physical and chemical properties of lithium batteries spontaneously change between the hold and passenger cabin is beyond me.

        Once a nutter figures out how to improvise a bomb from a few lithium batteries, air travel is going to be an even bigger pain in the arse: no battery-powered devices will be allowed on board.

        Oh and there have been quite a few recalls of laptop batteries because of overheating and even fires in some cases. At least one of these cost Sony millions. These batteries are usually fine. But when they go bad the results are nasty.

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      I'm going clubbing

      Reckon that would work for 6x D cells in some flexible pipe?

  37. LesC


    Don't the Army prefer to corall their enemies before wasting them? You would think your average terrorist would be more likely to get his appointment with his 100 virgins by loosing off his anthrax / dirty bomb / nerve gas or whatever in a crowded airport - or any crowded space - the panic would be huge.

    Not an explosion mind - the victims nearest the blast ensure the survival of the ones further away as they absorb the energy.

    There's an element of 'the politics of fear' in all of this and the guy from BA is trying to cut through all of the carp. After all how many 'warnings' have we had in the last month?

    Mines is the one with the old VWP green ticket in the pocket.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    High camp theatre

    A couple of weeks ago I was passing through Heathrow's Outer Circle of security hell when the arch went 'bing'. A very polite officer said would I be prepared to be patted down. I said yes. After a good rummage he said he wasn't sure why the machine was going 'ping' so would I accept a body scan.

    In the interests of novelty I said yes, so I was taken through to the pervatron. En route I found a couple of things, including a pack of gum and a pack of wet wipes tucked into a pocket and passed them to the security guy. He put them on the table without examining them further, irradiated my produce section and said I was free to go.

    But the two objects I took out of my pocket that might have triggered the arch were never rescanned.

  39. Dibbles

    One rule for them...

    It's a pretty astute point that the US forces airports to do more thorough checks for flights to the US. So for example in Pearson, you have the security check for US flights (shoes off, show boarding pass to 3 separate people, generally treated like some kind of prison inmate) and that for all other flights (generally more friendly, more logical checks, no particular need to get undressed for "security").

    Funny thing is, from a geopolitical point of view, that the US hates the idea of Russia's 'near abroad', or circle of influence in Central Asia. Yet when it comes to bullying its neighbours, the US is right in there...

    1. MeRp

      If you think...

      If you really believe that airports in the US don't put their prisoners, er "customers" through all of the same craziness as has been described int he article and comments thus far, plus some, then you obviously have not been in most US airports. We have to go through all of this too for both domestic and international flights.

      This is less of a case of "do as I say, not as I do" and much, much more of a case of "I'm not crazy, really! And anyone else who doesn't do what I do MUST be crazy."

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Why can't we just have....

    .....a RED channel for bad guys and a GREEN channel for the rest of us?

    It makes about as much sense as the current malarkey...

    1. StooMonster

      Mexico City

      Your post reminds me of the 'Customs Lottery' at Mexico City airport, don't know if it's still there.

      Everyone has to stop and press the big button, and like a game-show it "randomly" selects people to stop and search. The fact that it's placed in front of a giant one-way mirror always made me suspicious of how "random" it really was.

      We should do the same thing with airport security ... although knowing my luck I'd be pulled up every time. Plus-ca-change, but at least I've got an entire array of funny dumb-airport-security stories.

    2. Steve Evans

      Re: Why can't we just have....

      Or red plane and Green plane. I think the red plane would have to be flown by remote control, probably from the green one, who'd want to pilot that one?! It could work you know... Make everyone eat a ham sandwich. Those that refuse go into the red plane.

      Sure it will mean the Muslims and Jews are on the same plane, but hopefully the hippy vegetarians will manage to keep it calm with a sing along.

  41. Tempest

    Why would anyone buy Duty Free at any BAA airport?

    Before BAA was gifted the taxpayers airports, the claim was that Duty Free prices were better than the High Street.

    When BAA took over, and hiked shopping area prices, they couldn't claim that any more.

    The best way into the UK is fly into PAR or AMS then take the Eurorail, beats the hell out of any BAA London facility and you arrive downtown in a relaxed state.

    Also avoid Duty Free at Bangkok, anywhere else they would call it daylight robbery.

  42. bexley

    it's a propaganda / deterent thing

    right or wrong what they have been doing is making noise, same reason they put the army at heathrow with tanks etc... a few years back.

    The army being at heathrow with armour was never really going to be practically effective but it gived pause for thought when planning some kind of 'event'.

    I mean, if you were thinking about setting off a bomb on an airline, you might think twice when seeing a tank outside the terminal entrance.

    the whole liquids thing / sharps etc... is just a bit of asemetrical pro active security.

    I'd prefer it that they did not try to profiteer of the back of it though, £3 for a small bottle of water that you have no choice but to buy is grossly unfair.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    P && !P

    The whole thing's utterly contradictory.

    You can't take non-safety matches with you but you can take a lighter, you can't take a pair of scissors with blades longer than 6cm but you can take a pair of scissors with blades no longer than 6cm, you can take knitting needles but not a corkscrew, you can't take a cigarette lighter in your hand luggage but you can carry one on your person (as long as it's not a gun-shaped cigarette lighter).

    No doubt the "separate screening process" that liquids on sale inside the terminal go through involves checking each and every single bottle before they're put on sale just to make sure they're safe and to make sure getting rid of liquids before boarding isn't just a futile waste of time designed to extract maximum revenue from passengers?

    Bloody timewasting rules.

  44. Gavin 2

    Security Muppets

    Colleague here tells an interesting story about his cousin who is an airline pilot.

    Cousin gets stopped by security for a pair of nail clippers. He explains that he is the pilot and his cabin has a fire axe in it, but no security still wont let him take a pair of nail clippers through.

    1. StooMonster

      Nail clippers? Deadly weapons!

      I wasn't going to bore El Reg readers with my myriad of dumb airport security stories, but you've raised the evil nail clippers and I cannot resist.

      I actually have several stories about nail clippers, but yours reminds me of one time I was boarding a plane to USA and at the gate was an extra security desk. They pulled me up and searched my bag -- I almost always get stopped at every point on every journey and I'm not even slightly brown skinned, I think it's the look of contempt in my eyes for their 'security theatre' that does it -- the muppets found a pair of nail clippers I had left in there.

      "Don't worry", airport security assured me, "we can make these safe". One muppet held said pair of nail clippers and donned safety specs whilst second one used a pair of bolt cutters to cut the end off. Crunch ... clink ... flying metal shard into bucket. First muppet then held up in his rubber-gloved hand the flatten nail-clippers with extremely sharp jagged edge where 'blades' used to be and said "There you are sir", to which I replied "No thanks, they won't cut nails anymore" and they threw them into a large plastic dustbin. WTF?

  45. ZenCoder

    Its never been about actual security.

    This is how it works. Some delusional feeble minded loser tires to take down a plane based on something that can only work in a Hollywood movie or an episode of McGuyver. The news outlets engage in their regular fear mongering because it gets more ratings than real journalism. The politicians create regulations based on headlines rather than reality.

  46. Richard Cartledge


    Since the shoe bomber days, I have always removed shoes at Heathrow, but 3 weeks ago, I saw several people not take their shoes off and just show them, so I did the same. I think if they are metal-free you are OK, but if they have metal eyelets etc... you have to take them off with your belt, watch etc... Best to get some suitable flying shoes.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    waste of time

    Security at airports really is a waste of time. If you wanted to hijack a plane you could simply put a ceramic knife down your trouser leg and make sure you didn't have any metal. You wouldn't be patted down and wouldn't set off the alarm. Every place that sells knives has ceramic knives these days, even the supermarket....

    If someone is determined to hijack a plane they will find a way no matter what security you put in place, so stop inconveniencing everyone else and get rid of all of it.

    I find it truly refreshing when I travel back home and can turn up at the airport 20 minutes before a flight and stroll to the gate and get on without any security at all. Some stupid journalist thought this was unsafe so decided to make his point by taking a chainsaw as his hand luggage. Noone cared and the public reaction was to tell the journalist to pull his head in and grow up... Thank god I come from a country that still possesses some common sense. I do fear common sense is becoming all too uncommon these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Most of those machines will randomly beep also. So you may not have any metal, but it can still beep providing with a pat down...

  48. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    It seems a *lot* of this comes from the EU.

    So not a lot can be done by the UK govt.

    *However* were his opposite numbers around the EU to voice a similar view (that's its BS and should be scrapped), combined with some vigorous lobbying to the EU (3 *hours* of CEO's time spent standing in line for some minimum wage, near minimum IQ goon to check they are not a terrorist) might get a *lot* of this lifted in fairly short order and perhaps encourage more people to fly (which airports like) might offset the lost of revenue from the decline of the 3 hour "security" delay.

    BTW I've heard the *fastest* check in in the US is at Ronald Regan National. It's the main airport for Washington DC and (surprise, surprise) Senators, Congress critters and their assorted staffs, relatives, prostitutes, hangers on etc simply *can't* spare that much time.

    They don't have to.

    It's *amazing* what can happen when people with actual power can be inconvenienced.

  49. Alexander Rogge

    Security is an illusion

    All the money spent on technology will not stop the most basic dangers being brought onto passenger aircraft. There are holes everywhere, a lot of them human and others related to technological implementation. The nod for a security passover that I got on my last public flight in the U.S. is about the same as what everyone else gets, if not more so. I didn't take off my shoes, nor open my briefcase, nor tell anyone what was in the plastic bottle that I was carrying, nor did I have to verbally explain why I set off the metal detector. One look and I was on my way, and that's the way it used to be for everyone. People used to be able to walk out to the waiting plane, put their luggage on, and take their seats without delay.

    Shoe checks, liquid checks, and beeping scanners are mostly useless and a waste of time, adding many distractions to what the security should be looking for. Weapons on the plane and explosives under the plane are not the problem. The problem is bad people or stupid people doing things that can cause the plane to crash, and that includes disrupting communications. The damage that a determined attacker could do to the air transportation system is unbelievable. You can throw all the money you want at security, but until there is a way to separate the people like me from the people who want to ignite their underpants for Christmas, the chances of finding someone with criminal intent is extremely unlikely. There is far too much noise, both beeping and voices, to be able to notice anyone but the dumbest criminals. Even then, if something doesn't go Beep, someone could walk something very hazardous onto a plane and convey it to the intended target without being detected until days after the event. That's what keeps me awake at night. We must do better at detecting and stopping criminals before they are able to plan and attack.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Israel - fastest and most thorough security checks in the world

    Anyone who has been in and out of Israel will see the profiling in use and it workers amazingly well. Local Israelis who answer a few simple questions about their background will speed through the checks while Arabs from the emirates will have to answer a few more personal questions. This also means white tourists don't get bothered. However, this will NEVER occur in the UK simply because the politicians wouldn't be able to handle the fallout. Why save time focusing on the high-risk sector of the population when you can spend twice as much time screening and annoying the whole country.

    1. Mayhem

      Israel wasn't attacked by the Irish either

      Think about what countries the UK has offended greatly.

      Ireland - European terrorists

      Afghanistan / Pakistan - Asian terrrorists

      Iran / Iraq - Arabs

      Argentina - theres your South Americans

      About the only ethnic groups I can think of that might not be a threat is Black africans and eastern Asians, and if we include Nigeria / Kenya and Malaysia / Indonesia as historical people who may have grudges, well ...

      They kind of have to screen everyone.

      A better example would have been Swiss customs - they do blatant profiling there as well, but it is very efficient and much of it is automated based on cameras picking up abnormalities in behaviour.

      I can't say I can recall there ever being a terrorist threat to the swiss, although that may be because even the bad guys have to bank *somewhere* and the Caymans are harder to access.

  51. FreeTard

    Ryan air do the opposite.

    They do the least amount of checks, leaving it all up to the airport security. They don't even look at who you are, and if you don't make the flight, brilliant, less weight so save fuel yet got paid.

    They truly are the worst offenders. Ryan air only accept passports and not driving licences or other offial ID to and from the UK. AFAIK, they are the only "airline" that do this.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    What a small world it is

    A few days after a major airline representative points out that "security theatre" is largely pointless, and consequently previously oblivious elements of The Public start wondering whether this terrorist nightmare stuff should be taken seriously given that we've seemingly already given up so much freedom because of The War Against Terror, we get a new bomb scare.

    What *is* PETN anyway? And if it's specifically designed to be undetectable, how are "they" going to detect it?

    1. jake Silver badge

      @AC 10:35

      "What *is* PETN anyway?"

      Metacrawl it. It's been around for years.

      "And if it's specifically designed to be undetectable"

      It's not. "The Press" is ignorant. As usual.

      "how are "they" going to detect it?"

      a) There is no "they".

      ii) Just like any other nitrate ester.

      3) All my dogs will alert on it.

This topic is closed for new posts.