I have been reading Patrick Smith’s Ask The Pilot column for many years in Salon Magazine. Mr Smith is a fine writer, and as an insider in the airline industry (he is a pilot for an unnamed US airline), he often offers interesting and sometimes contrarian views on a wide variety of travel-related topics, including my personal bugbear – airport security.
It is well worth surfing through his site for some of his previously published essays and travelogues. Being possessed of a fine wit and no small measure of sardonic perspective, he is a great storyteller.
Once upon a time, I too flew for a living, in what were then much friendlier skies. It was the early 1980’s, just before a big economic recession. I was in the back of the bus (ie Flight Attendant) – flying both domestic and international routes for a major Canadian airline. And even though those days now feel like they were lived in a past life, I continue to endure/enjoy frequent travel (I love going places – but hate getting there).
As a well-traveled, responsible, tax-paying Canadian citizen with no criminal history or associations, I object to being treated like a convict at the airport, and as ex-crew, I am all too aware that any terrorist worth half his salt could find innumerable ways to wreak havoc by going in the “back door”, so to speak, while grandmas, grandpas and three year olds are being overly scrutinized in a ridiculous display of security theatre. Caterers, baggage handlers, cleaners, mechanics, aircraft maintenance crew – these people have pretty much unlimited access to the aircraft, and should one of them wish to place a little something noxious or detonatable, I am pretty sure it would not be too tough to do. But still, the focus seems to be on getting wheelchair bound octogenarians and preschoolers closely screened. It makes you wonder…
So I appreciate Patrick Smith, and his willingness to continually bring the issue of airport security in to focus.
For a great piece (which appeared in Salon Magazine), follow this link —–> Patrick Smith on the Underwear Bomber.