UK shares US show of security on flight policies

At least, according to the information we have on the supposed threat. Standard air terrorism discussion warning – skip ahead if you are just effing tired of reading about the terrorists

I’ll note here that all my ranting on this is based on the currently available information for the public. I will gladly apologize for pointing out idiocy in “security” decisions if any information comes out which makes it clear the threat is significantly greater than can currently be shown by knowledgeable people. But until more information is available to prove us skeptics wrong, I’m going to go with the wisdom of folks who know the chemistry behind the explosives (oh, and note a different source than last time, just to show it’s not just one nutjob who thinks this all unlikely) and doubt the magnitude of the threat. I’m not saying the threat isn’t real – it’s just seriously overblown.

I mean, after all, how else can you characterize spending less than $300 million on research and prevention methods for a disease that killed roughly 36,000 US citizens last year (and i will admit it takes a bit of reading and some math to come up with that number from that link) while spending over $41 billion fighting a threat which 5 years ago killed nearly 3000 US citizens? Even adding in other deaths since then due to terrorism, and possibly counting the number of US soldiers killed as a result of our fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the imbalance in numbers is staggeringly obvious. To me, it’s security theater plain and simple.  I’m not asking to ignore terrorism, but let’s have some sensible balance, please.
All that said, here’s some commentary on the UK allowances for flights now. There is much more information and critical review of this elsewhere, but I want to have my say.

Here is some guidance on what you can and cannot take on the planes when flying into or out of the UK now.

Q What about books and magazines on flights to and from the United Kingdom?

A This is an iffy situation, and it could very well come down to the decisions of individual security screeners and flight attendants.

If you’re flying British Airways, books are banned, as are magazines and newspapers, said John Lampl, a spokesman for British Airways. “These are regulations handed down by the U.K. government,” Lampl said. “The only acceptable items are small items — nothing of any large size that could be used as a container.”

Most airlines carry an ample supply of magazines and newspapers, and if you’re flying an airline other than British Airways, you can bring a book on the flight out of the United States — but you’ll have to pack it in your checked bag for the flight home.

No books, magazines, or newspaper. Apparently, those are all too big and rigid to be safely allowed on the plane – you might carry a huge bomb in them and blastify the entire sky out of the, um, well, sky. I get that books might be containers for other unallowables. But the answer to that is open the books and look, not block all books from flights. It’s not like going through security is a quick process any more.  At this point, the omission of the extra 5 seconds to open a book to check it is humorous in the OMFG I can’t believe they are doing it this way manner.  And I don’t buy in to the threat of magazines. I’ve seen the available magazines on the planes. Thank you, but I’d rather have something interesting and current to read.

Q What about pens and pencils in case I want to play games with my kids?

A Pens are fine. If you’re traveling with children, ask a flight attendant about free kits that contain crayons, coloring books and small games.

Pens are fine? What about pencils? Hopefully that is a simple oversight on the answer, but don’t you find it odd? Anyway, I actually like that the airlines are supposedly offering crayons, coloring books and small games for children. That’s one of the good things I seen here. It’s probably an old thing, but I wasn’t aware of this before.

Q I’m confused about items like lipstick, lip gloss and lip balm. Are they allowed in carry-ons?

A The U.S. Transportation Security Administration on Friday clarified its position on these products. Lipsticks and solid lip balms are permitted, said Nico Melendez, a TSA official. But lip glosses and Vaseline-style balms that come in small tubes are prohibited, as are items such as mascara, eyeliner, hair spray and nail polish.

“If in doubt, pack it,” Melendez said. “I’d rather that people be safe and put it in their checked bags than have to give it up at the security checkpoint.”

What? I wish we knew more about WTF happened or is believed to be happening. I just can’t come up with an explanation that allows lipstick but not lip gloss in a small tube.

Q Can I buy a sandwich and carry it on the plane?

A Yes. The TSA did not list food among its prohibited items. But you cannot carry drinks on board.

Those sandwiches are bigger than some of the books I carry to read.  How can we be sure there isn’t a bomb in them?  Actually, I just wanted to point out that I still think the restrictions on drinks is security theater and not real threat-response.

Q My daughter has asthma and carries an inhaler. Can she take it on board?

A As long as it has been prescribed by a doctor, she can carry it. But she should keep it in the prescription box with her name, which must match the name on her boarding pass or ticket.

I have been using an inhaler for asthma for over 25 years.  I can’t tell you where a single box is for my prescription inhaler.  I have no suggestions for how to handle this, but I believe this basically forces asthmatics to go get new prescriptions now, as most folks I know keep the inhaler and pitch the box.  I guess the pharmaceutical industry will be pleased with this decision.

[tags]UK security response to liquid terrorism threat, UK matches US security theater terrorism policies[/tags]

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