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Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
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Monday, August 14, 2006

The low spark of hightened air travel security rules

New air travel regulations are been enforced all over the world as governments try to put up a show of fighting the threats of the past. Things on the banned list include lip gloss, nail polish, shaving cream, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, beverages (including liquor), perfume, lotions, nonprescription liquid medicines, liquid makeup, liquid eyeliner or lip balm, even some lipstick. Passengers themselves would be added soon to this list. In a way, this is a great leveler, a small step towards realization of the ultimate communist dream. Yes, now business class passengers will stink as much as economy class ones.

And what do the agencies do with all such harmless goods seized from gullible passengers- set up another Wal-Mart? Rather let charities like Salvation Army put up stalls right next to the x-ray machine. A pawn shop next to the security counter won’t do bad business either.

The problem with security agencies is that the smarter people don’t join them. After decades, they realized that nail clippers were actually harmless. And their minds are numbed by years of training and instructions that tell them time and time again to follow the book. So they make a great rule that liquid medicines will only be allowed if supported by a prescription with passengers name written on it. They forget that a terrorist smart enough to make bombs on board from liquid medicines and toothpaste will have not much difficulty getting a fake prescription.

I wonder what would be the ultimate wish-list of the air travel security departments. I am sure there are proposals with governments that recommend sealing passengers in bags and putting them along with checked-in baggage; or asking passengers to sit naked in airplanes, or tying hands and feet of passengers and blindfolding them before letting them board the plane. And after all these, the passenger has to pay an exorbitant amount to a sulky air hostess in the discount airline for a small water bottle.

But all the while I have been complaining about the problems faced by passengers. Please let us also spare a thought for the airport security officials: a life spent amongst stinky shoes, nail cutters, angry passengers, metal detector noise, and having to touch dirty underwear while checking baggage. And don’t forget the worst nightmare of a security official: a bulky passenger breaking wind when the official stoops and checks his posterior with a metal detector.

2 comments:

Aditya said...

Personally I wouldn't mind additional security measures if it does result in saving a few lives.
But then the concerned authorities must act in a manner which shows that they have brains bigger than peas.

rajeev said...

Hi,

Nice blog!

Why don’t you consider writing about some of the new “India 2.0” sites that are creating a little buzz as well?

Eg: www.ilaaka.com

www.onyomo.com

Thanks!

Rajeev