Airport Screening to Change December 22
The much-ballyhooed changes to TSA airport screening procedures will go into effect December 22, just in time for Christmas travel.
Airline passengers soon will be allowed to take small scissors and screwdrivers aboard planes again, Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley announced Friday. Hawley said the change will take effect Dec. 22 and is part of a broader effort aimed at having screeners spend more of their time searching for explosives rather than small, sharp objects that don’t pose as great a risk. The small implements were banned after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Under the new plan, more passengers will be subjected to secondary screening and pat-downs will include the arms and legs as well as the torso. Passengers also can expect more randomness at security gates so would-be terrorists won’t know for sure what they will see. For example, an airport might require all passengers to remove their shoes one day but not the next. Some passengers may have to show their identification an extra time or have their carry-on bag hand-searched.
“By incorporating unpredictability into our procedures and eliminating low-threat items, we can better focus our efforts on stopping individuals who wish to do us harm,” Hawley said.
Among the items no longer prohibited from airliner cabins: scissors 4 inches or less, and tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers that are smaller than 7 inches. Box-cutters and small knives will remain on the list of banned items.
While I understand the rationale for unpredictability, randomly doing stupid things is still stupid. Having people subjected to random groping and being forced to take their shoes off absent the slightest suspicion is still stupid–to say nothing of outrageous–when done randomly. Indeed, more so since people will at least grow accustomed to regularized mistreatment.
On that subject, I continue to be amazed at the lack of standardization from airport-to-airport now that TSA is in charge of screening. Some airports require showing boarding passes multiple times, others don’t. Some require people to take their shoes off, others don’t. Interestingly, the D.C. area airports are among the least intrusive in that regard, which seems odd given that two of the 911 airplanes took off from Dulles and the national capital region is one of the prime targets. Oddly, the most aggravating security checks I’ve undergone recently was at the podunk airport in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Update (12/3, 0702: Cori Dauber agrees: “Excellent. Replacing one inefficiency with the increase of another inefficiency.”