web Musings of The Global Traveller

Friday, September 11, 2009

War on Powders

As another anniversary of 9/11 rolls around, it is time for USA's TSA to announce yet another "security" initiative. Having failed to foil non-existant plots involving liquids, gels, aerosols and similar substances, a war on powders has now been declared. Watch out any flyers with bad dandruff!

While a TSA blog post has a very simple Q&A, there is no information on the main website other than a press release which is lacking in information. So people flying through or from USA beware - there are new requirements which you need to meet, effective now, but the public doesn't yet know what they are. Kinda makes it tough to comply with, doesn't it?

The move seems to be ill-thought out. We've already had at least one terminal shut-down due to a "suspicious" powder which was found to be harmless. Expect more, many more.

Some TSA staff have posted to Flyer Talk that suspicious powders will be tested at the security check-point. Somehow the logic fails me. Either a powder is completely safe (virtually all of them - when was the last time you heard of an aircraft explosion or hijacking due to powder?) and thus testing is a watse of time, or it is not. If it isn't safe then why endanger security staff and potentially hundreds of travellers at the checkpoint by opening up the container and taking a sample for testing on the spot? A bad guy wouldn't need to bring a bomb onboard, they could cause just as much havoc at a crowded airport terminal.

The way things are going, air travellers in USA may not be allowed to carry anything onboard, and be naked at the screening checkpoint. Sounds far fetched? Consider this - imaging technology already being used at several airports strips away clothing, we can't carry aboard liquids, we can't carry aboard aerosols, we can't carry aboard gels, we have some (as yet unknown) restrictions on powders. All that is left is (some) solids. The list of prohibited solids grows every year.

I despair of the future of travel in USA. TSA is so powerful and has a vested interest in keeping people scared and obtaining an ever growing role and budget. So far, no one in authority has the guts to say enough of the nonsense. What are the odds of an improvement by the next anniversary of 9/11?

1 comment:

UAL4life said...

you know its that time where in the movie the smart guy tells the official guy that something really bad is happening or about to. And the Official guy says in a raspy voice, "My God"...

Just when you think we've come to the end, it turns around and kicks you right where it counts... :(