One would think that no one would be able to get past security at a major airport with a razor knife, pepper-spray or a lead-lined bag, all items on the FBI’s banned items list. However, he/she would be wrong. During the holiday weekend, 14 reporters from the New York Daily News and a CBS News investigative team were able to do just that. The worst part is, this isn’t the first time news agencies have tried this. Nothing has changed since Sept. 11. Airlines check bags and check shoes, but they are not protecting their passengers, and that’s the bottom line.
Daily News sent reporters out to 11 airports, including those in Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C. and Portland, Maine, the same airports used by terrorists to board planes Sept. 11. At these airports, while in plain sight, reporters placed banned weapons into their carry-on luggage and were not stopped at a single security checkpoint on the way to the gate. Even during the mandatory search of carry-on baggage at the gate, the items were not found. The CBS crew used lead-lined bags, obvious to the naked eye, to conceal weapons in their luggage. Security expert Harvey Kushner commented to the Daily News that any well-trained security personnel would recognize a lead-lined bag. The fact that they didn’t, is troubling.
When contacted and told of the investigation, a spokeswoman for United Airlines said, “That is a violation of federal law that you guys knowingly took those items on an airline.” While a blatantly obvious conclusion, it’s also a little late. It’s hard to get angry with these reporters when it’s the airlines’ neglect that could have caused thousands of deaths.
So, it’s back to square one. Is it safe to fly? No one really knows. Perhaps they should start treating airplanes like public beaches. “No effective security, fly at own risk.” Airlines, please get your act together. We pay for better security, we should get it.