Oh, I couldn’t help myself. In between reading subscriber notes detailing continued inconsistent TSA treatment at domestic airports, (not to mention a couple that also mentioned weirdness in-flight with flight attendants refusing to give cans of coke to passengers saying it was now “prohibited,”) what did my eyes read this morning, but this tidbit. Not that we weren’t already aware of the fact. But it just served to start the day off on the, er, wrong foot.
And I quote from Leslie Miller of the Associated Press,
“X-ray machines that screen airline passengers’ shoes cannot detect explosives, according to a Homeland Security Department report on aviation screening.
Findings from the report, obtained by The Associated Press, did not stop the Transportation Security Administration from announcing Sunday that all airline passengers must remove their shoes and run them through X-ray machines before boarding commercial aircraft.
The shoe-scanning requirement was ordered as the government fine-tunes new security procedures since British police last week broke up a terrorist plot to assemble and detonate bombs aboard as many as 10 airliners crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to the United States.
Among the new procedures are a ban on liquids and gels in airline passenger cabins, more hand searches of carryon luggage, and random double screening of passengers at boarding gates.
On Sunday, the TSA made it mandatory for shoes to be run through X-ray machines as passengers go through metal detectors. They were begun in late 2001, after the arrest of Richard Reid aboard a trans-Atlantic flight when he tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his shoe. The shoe scans have been optional for several years.
In its April 2005 report, “Systems Engineering Study of Civil Aviation Security – Phase I,” the Homeland Security Department concluded that images on X-ray machines don’t provide the information necessary to detect explosives.”
I’m shaking my head. I might actually be forced to get another cup of coffee. Or maybe a valium would be better. At least I’m not screaming… yet.
Meanwhile for those of you who have a trip to Heathrow in your future, good luck. But other than that admonition, as of today, a “small” carry-on bag can be taken onboard flights out of Heathrow, but the size of that bag is barely big enough to squeeze in a 17-inch MacBook Pro inside. Much less the iPod, the headphones, a good book to read, and all the rest.
But at least there’s been some “give” in the onboard limitations that had previously been in effect for those flying in and out of Her Majesty’s Palace of Planes. Along with that second-tier place of planes, Gatwick.