Starting today, Canadians can take one carry-on bag on flights to the United States. This lifts the ban on carry-ons that came into effect after the failed bomb attempt on December 25. Two carry-on bags are still permitted on domestic and overseas flights.
The Transport Canada announcement is welcome news to photographers who fear their gear will be stolen or roughly handled if left with baggage handlers.
Transport Canada also announced it will install full body scanners at airports and introduce a system for screening passengers based on suspicious behaviour. Announcing body scanners at this time comes as no surprise, but the business of “screening passengers based on suspicious behaviour” certainly does.
Does Transport Canada really mean that up until now they have not been screening passengers based on suspicious behaviour? Have we learned nothing from the Israelis who have had airport security concerns from long before the 9/11 terrorist air attack?
This whole business of airport/airline security baffles me. In North America we are spending billions of dollars to make air travelers feel more safe, but seem to have accomplished little in making air travel actually safe. When is the last time we heard of screening actually resulting in the arrest of a person in possession of explosives?
Bombing attempts have been foiled by incompetence of the would-be bombers, heroic passengers and blind luck.
Both the shoe-bomber and the recent underwear-bomber were able to get past security and board flights. In the case of the latter, the failed bomber’s father had warned authorities before hand that the man posed a danger yet he was still able to board an airplane.
No special screening needed there—just some competence on the part of Western security services.
Money does not ensure competence, professional leadership does. So long as we have to rely on the leadership of “political” choices like U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, we will continue to take undue risks every time we board a flight to the United States.
And, in Canada, we keep spending more and more, regardless of results. But it’s only taxpayer money, right?
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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