Monday, September 18, 2006

Security Theater

I haven't flown commercial in around seven years - well before Sep 11, 2001. I had to take a commercial flight a couple weeks ago and boy, have things changed.

Some of the changes that have been made in the name of security I can understand - more extensive screening of checked baggage, better security at the passenger screening area, etc. But a lot of the changes are simply ridiculous: "security theater" as it's been called. The latest insanity involves the prohibition of liquids and gels. Grandma can't take her bottled water aboard the aircraft any more. And you can forget about buying duty-free liquor or perfumes during your layover.

But what's extra-stupid about this new ban is that it's not being enforced. I could easily have carried on a bottle of water in my backpack - no one is searching passengers or their carry-on luggage before they walk down the gangway. Furthermore, it's been reported that the flight crews don't care. They see passengers drinking from their water bottles, or applying their lip gloss, and they don't care.

This ban on gels and liquids is a reactionary measure designed to make us feel safer. In practice, it's totally ineffective at actually preventing liquids or gels from being brought aboard. It is Security Theater.