Sunday, January 3, 2010

More informed commentary on the TSA follies from Joe Brancatelli

I think that, once again, Joe has summed up the air travel security mess quite well. I wish this weren't the case, but we still don't have the right security measures in place. 

New "rules" from the TSA announced
Reply-To: "Joe Brancatelli" <>

January 3, 2010 11:15 pm ET

Dear JoeSentMe member:
     Tonight's announcement from the Transportation Security Administration that it is implementing new security measures for international flights headed to the United States means the agency has gone into full CYA mode.
     In short, the announcement is mindless, full of gobbledygook and virtually useless for travelers trying to figure out how to reasonable prepare for a flight to the United States.
     If you doubt my assessment, I invite you to examine it yourself here: .
     Okay, now that's we've established the reality of what is going on here, let's try to figure out what we have to do to survive the next period on the road.
     For starters, expect more nit-picky, phony-baloney tactics at security checkpoints everywhere. As they have been since the failed attack on Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day, security screeners are going to paw over more of your carry-on belongings, make more silly claims about what may or may not be permitted and generally treat you like a potential terrorist because you're carrying an unmarked bottle of shampoo. You'll certainly have to leave more time to clear security checkpoints starting tomorrow. 
     Expect more secondary screenings and pat-downs, too. This is likely to be random. You remember "random" from the days right after 9/11, don't you? The first two people on line to board the plane are "randomly" pulled aside for extra screening at the gate. 
     On flights departing to the United States, assume secondary screenings and pat-downs will be standard for every passenger.
     In-flight on international itineraries, expect some flight crews to make you stay in your seat during the last hour or so of flying. Expect others to take away your blankets or restrict your access to your carry-on bags. These procedures are no longer demanded by the TSA--the agency backed off that late last week--but the TSA has empowered crews to enforce these restrictions if they wish. Most flight crews are NOT playing this game. But if you run into a flight attendant who does, be smart: Don't argue. You won't win.
     One substantive change implemented tonight by the TSA has to do with routings from or through countries the United States has branded sponsors of terrorism or nations the U.S. has decided are "of interest." If your itinerary includes any of these states, expect several layers of intrusive security, including inane questioning, obsessive attention to your carry-on and checked bags and pat-downs or other physical inspections of your person.
     Which nations are involved? Well, why would you expect the TSA to tell you? But we can infer these states, at least, are targeted: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
     One final and important warning: Many international carriers have imposed a one-carry-on-bag rule in recent days because the new security screening and caused long lines at checkpoints. And one nation, Canada, has officially banned ALL carry-on bags on flights to the United States. You can examine that insane rule, imposed by Canada's equivalent of the TSA, here: Check with your carrier for its current rules for carry-ons. Assume nothing.
     Now you can ask the obvious question: Would any of these new rules have actually stopped the so-called Underwear Bomber from boarding NW Flight 253. Of course not. He didn't have any contraband in his carry-on bag and most pat-downs wouldn't have caught the comparatively small amount of explosive material he stashed in his drawers.
     But these new rules show you the TSA is on the case. The more they make the flying experience inconvenient and full of nits being picked, the more they think you think they are doing their job.
     We know better. And, frankly, so do they. But this is CYA time and when government agencies cover their keister, we pay the price in time--in convenience and in sanity.
     Be safe on the road this week.
    Joe Brancatelli //

Posted via email from Doug's posterous

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