Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stricter Air Travel Security Coming

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It was December 25, 2009, Christmas Day. It happened inside a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Detroit, USA. Umar Farouk Addulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian engineering student-turned-jihadi tried to detonate powdery explosives hidden in his underwear little before the plane was to land. Due to aggressive interference of fellow passengers Umar failed in his mission but was seriously burned from partially-ignited explosives. This act of terrorism brought about an international row about airport and airlines security.

Stricter Measures by the USA and Canada

In the light of the above-mentioned incident, USA, Canada and some other countries have decided to gear up their new strict security measures.

New security measures include:

  • Additional precaution about and extra searches on passengers traveling to the USA via or from these 14 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The USA considers these countries having some kind of links to terrorism.
  • Introduction of full-body and invasive security scanners at airports dealing with international flights.
  • Increased electronic scanning of passenger baggage for arms and explosives.
  • Prohibition of certain items in carry-ons: such as pocket knives, box cutters, cork screws, liquids and the like.
  • Strengthening and strictly following of the no-fly lists.
  • More use of sniffing dogs for detecting explosives in luggage.
  • No getting up from one's seat in the plane for the last one hour of the flight.
  • Items that could be mistaken for explosives in the scanning machines should be taken as hand luggage.
  • Suitcases should not be locked.
  • Books should be laid flat, not stacked.
  • International flights entering the USA will have their baggage checked at their first landing airport, even if the final destination of the flight is elsewhere in the USA.
Concerns Over the Stricter Measures

Civil libertarians and privacy advocates are expressing concerns over these measures. They say that:

  • These measures will cause extraordinary delays of flights leading to serious inconveniences to passengers.
  • The use of full-body and invasive scanners will invade the privacy and decency of persons and the photos taken thereby might get misused by some unscrupulous scanning machine operators.
  • In certain countries, especially in Britain, taking of scanner-based photos of underage children is liable to breach child protection laws that ban creation of indecent images of children.
  • Citizens of those 14 countries may feel specially discriminated in world airports because of extra security measures to be taken against them.
New Airport Scanning Machines

To learn more of the new airport scanners, you may visit the following:

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