Real airline security: locked cockpit doors and passports

Monday, September 24, 2001 at 12:00am

Just as I predicted, the new "security procedures" adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in response to the most deadly hijackings in history will be incredibly burdensome for American travelers but, at the same time, will do absolutely nothing to deter hijackers.

The government's logical calculus on flight security has long been: Really annoying equals safe plane. (Say you were a tribesman from a distant island and had never in your entire life seen a seatbelt. Don't you think you could figure it out?)

The FAA's new hijacker repellant is this: Passengers will now have to show boarding passes to get to the gates. This wily stratagem will stop cold any hijackers on suicide missions who forgot to buy airline tickets. It's during times like these that I get down on my knees and thank God we have a federal Department of Transportation.

The genius security procedures laboriously implemented by the government over the past decade certainly served this country well on Bloody Tuesday. The real puzzler is how the hijackers managed to evade the "Did you pack your own bags?" trap. Only further investigation will solve that mystery.

We are also grateful for the magnetometers. The McDonald's rejects who run the machines are so efficient and courteous, you hardly notice them anymore. That's sarcasm. Addled TV commentators claimed that, heretofore, travelers had breezed right through the metal detectors. These are obviously people who haven't flown since the '50s.

Back on earth, the sullen, dictatorial security personnel invariably stop all passengers who are not likely to punch them (girls), rifle through their belongings, carefully examine their persons

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