Airport Security: Taking the Fun Out of Travel

The old man in the wheelchair in front of me groaned audibly as the attendant who was in charge of getting him through customs wretched his right arm from his jacket. The left one slid off easier. Next she took off his shoes and tossed them into the plastic tray to go through the scanner.

Eventually she gave up on trying to pull his belt through the loops on his pants and hissed, “If the sensor goes off, tell them it is because of the metal in your belt.”

“Can you walk a few steps without your cane because you can’t take it through with you?” He clung to the side of the conveyor to maintain his balance and managed to get through without the sensor buzzing.

Clearly exasperated, she thought she was just doing her job. The fact that the wheel-chair ridden man came up as the one-in-10 selected for an extensive search made no sense. He was as likely to be a terrorist as I was to give birth to triplets on the tarmac.

I asked her how the selection was done and she replied that it was random and, consequently, many passengers missed their connecting flights. “Random” is the proverbial needle in the haystack and about as effective.

Security Out of Control

After visiting 107 countries and living in 10, I have taken more international flights than I can even begin to count. But this was the first time where I’ve had my bags searched.

The security guard rattled off her prattle about how the pat-down could be done in private and how she would try not to hurt my breasts or genitals. Meanwhile a couple of klutzy men poked through my handbag and carry-on found nothing, but disturbed the careful packing I had done.


9/11 spawned an anti- terrorist industry. As I see it, the so-called terrorists are winning without having to do much of anything and it is costing a fortune.

Xenophobic American think that the Islamic State is out to get them. Wrong. Get your facts straight: most terrorist activity is carried out by radical Christians, far-right militia groups and white supremacists.

People who know anything about security will tell you that information gathered on the ground is much more valuable than random searches. So instead of being clustered in the airports they should be investigating the American suburbs and leaving the international travelers alone.

Years ago in Hawaii – while clearing the obligatory American customs for the onward flight from Sydney to Vancouver – a security guard asked me if I felt safer going through a number of checks. I replied that if they couldn’t get it right the first time I questioned their competence. Fortunately she wasn’t all that bright and didn’t pick up on what I’d said.

Another time, in Barcelona, a security guard managed to snatch a 125 ml bottle of lotion from my carry-on. It only had about 10 ml left but she confiscated it anyway.

I shot her an “I can’t actually believe you are actually that pedantic” look and she bumbled some bureaucratic jargon about how she had to take it as it was over the size allowed.

Security: Who Wins

The lines to go through security get longer and people’s tempers get shorter. And it doesn’t look as though it is going to get better any time soon, so best be prepared to be at the airport four hours before your next flight.

About the only thing security-out-of-control has done is to provide jobs for people with lower-end IQs who would be otherwise unemployed.