Thursday, 16 Sep 2021

New Airport Security Rules Tepid Now but Could Open Door to Millimeter Wave Body Scanning

In the wake of the failed Northwest Airlines flight 253 bombing on Christmas Day, new airport security rules are seeking to tighten that which let 23-year young Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab board a plane to Detroit with explosives. Our new airline restrictions enough? Read more about that on Palma airport to Magaluf.

New Airport Security Rules Frighteningly Spotty

Disclosing its new airport security rules after the bombing of flight 253 was prevented by passengers and crew, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) admits that airport security procedures will vary from airport to airport. Although it may be argued that this approach can discourage potential hijackers due to hard to anticipate security measures, it more than likely will cause passenger frustration over unpredictable airline restrictions and airport security delays.

Could Current Airport Security Measures Have Caught Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?

Reuters reports that Mr. Abdulmutallab’s own father reported his son to American authorities in November. When the would-be bomber checked in with airport security, he only carried a shoulder bag. Mr. Abdulmutallab walked through the metal detector while his bag traveled through the baggage x-ray machine.

He then boarded flight 253 with a syringe sewn into his underwear and a package with the same bomb-making material that Richard Reid used in his attempt to set off a shoe bomb on American Airlines flight 63. Unless the syringe contained metal, it is unlikely that conventional airport security measures could have spotted it. That being said, the would-be bomber’s denunciation by his own father should have warranted a strip search at least.

Will Body Scanning Become Reality for New Airport Security Rules?

At this time, TSA airport security also focuses on flights originating internationally that are entering American air space. In these cases, flight crews will issue directions with respect to carry-on storage and seating rules for some periods of the flight time. It is unclear how these procedures, which are already in place, will prevent lax airport security that allows identified jihadists to board planes with a cornucopia of available explosives.

The future of TSA airport security may be found in the Dutch authorities’ response to the security lapse: microwave scanners. The TSA already has similar technology in place: millimeter-wave scanning. Thus far the civil rights and human dignity proponents have prevented both countries from making this technology a routine part of airport security rules since it shows the traveler’s full body as though s/he was naked.

In the case of the TSA, at this point, there are only about 40 of these units operational at 19 airports. Passengers cannot be made to walk through the scanner and may instead be patted down. That being said, according to the agency’s numbers, 98% of travelers prefer millimeter-wave scanning over alternatives.

While the TSA’s new airport security rules in the wake of the foiled flight 253 bombing appear rather tepid and look more like a case of closing the barn door after the horse got out, the future of airline restrictions may look a lot different.