Well thought out airport security checks

by scotslawstudent

In light of Paul Chambers this is possibly the riskiest post on this blog. What follows are criticisms of the security services (not the real Security Service, just airport staff, I’m not crazy), comments about holes in security processes and the word “blow” is used repeatedly in various different contexts. I can only hope and pray that Scotland’s public interest differs from England’s.

Disclosure:

I think a lot of airport security is a bit of a farce designed to look busy with little to no protective value. The images in this post are cropped, but otherwise unedited, screenshots taken from the security pages at www.glasgowairport.com and it really does say these things on the site.

I like security

I’m going away on my holidays soon and I was looking up the airport baggage restrictions so I’m not forced to post my luggage home or something. I’ve written about the restriction on liquids for the blog before which I consider a particularly ridiculous piece of security theatre.

The big reason I find it so offensive is that I most definitely would like my life to be protected from people who want to blow up my plane, and if my life is on the line I don’t want stupid rules about taking your shoes off and only buying drinks after you’re through the scanners when they could actually be doing something else that might save my life. Other reasons include generally not liking stupidity, or being hassled unnecessarily (“will you remove your shoes?” “why?” “in case you blow them up”) and the mind boggling costs involved in stupidly hassling people unnecessarily.

The 100 ml rule

Generally in any kind of security, computer or airport, somewhere in the middle is both the natural compromise and the worst option – it’s neither particularly convenient nor particularly safe. The 100 ml rule is a classic example of this.

As far as liquids being dangerous and the “100 ml rule” are concerned there are only two possible questions raised – either:

  1. Liquids, gels and pastes are dangerous. In that case why are you allowed to take them onto a plane with other people? (No one’s allowed to take 100ml of gunpowder in a clear plastic bag) or,
  2. Liquids, gels and pastes aren’t dangerous. Well, in this case why aren’t you allowed to bring as much as you like? (After all, lots of Scottish ex-pats would like to blow their weight allowance on Irn Bru)

I also don’t understand why 100ml of liquid, gel or paste explosive wouldn’t be enough to make a big bang or why terrorists couldn’t organise and pool their 100ml bottles together to make a bigger bang? Also, why are liquids only dangerous if you have them in carry-on? You can have your entire weight limit in liquid explosive stowed in the hold (it’s against the airline rules on explosives but, after all, you are a terrorist) that’s simply not looked at or tasted.

Tasted?

There’s some serious problems with the testing scheme as well:

This goes for baby milk and medicines, I’m not sure if it covers human/animal liquids or toiletries or perfumes but there’s kinda no reason why it wouldn’t.

Firstly, just tasting something isn’t actually a test for anything. In every movie where a cop sticks his finger in the white powder and tries a bit he then sends it to an actual forensic lab to be looked at properly. “I stuck my finger in it and had a bit” is never going to stand up in court. All you’re testing there is if someone will drink weird things out of a bottle if you ask them to. That’s a game very drunk students play.

Secondly, I don’t know if anyone’s realised this but I think, if I was planning to blow up a plane that I was on, then risking poisoning to convince the security guy to let me on the plane would be a total no-brainer. However, if I was on medicine and I was ordered to take a dose (or possibly more than a dose) outside of my prescription to prove to a guy with a plastic nametag and no medical degree that it was medicine I’d need to say no. The suicide bomber would be the one you’d let on the plane.

Baby milk

You’re expected to open and taste a full half of your baby milk. That’s just a weird policy – again, if baby milk is potentially dangerous you should damn well test it all if it’s going on my plane and if it’s not dangerous why are you testing any of it? Half is just not the right amount of testing to do.

The irritating thing to remember when looking at this rule is just how reasonable and common sense some of the restrictions are – no grenades, for example. That’s perfectly fine by me, I’m all for keeping grenades off planes.

And finally

…there are crazy things like this:

Seriously, they make you drink-test your medicine cabinet and breast milk from little bottles in a clear plastic bag but you get to take a pressurised gas cigarette lighter on board a non-smoking flight. Weirdly you only get to take one – yet again, if it’s dangerous why let any on at all and if it’s not dangerous why can’t you take two?

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