Friday, August 18, 2006

Major Hole In Aviation Security

I hate to destroy your sense of aviation security, but apparently cargo is shipped on commercial airlines. (Click on post title for related story.) And most of these packages are not checked. Only packages explicitly requested to be on a particular flight are always checked, and the rest are randomly checked. Now, why are we cracking down on one area of security, leaving other areas wide open?

Unlike with checked luggage, the person who would be sending an explosive wouldn't be on the plane and so would have nothing to lose as it wouldn't be that hard to send a package without giving your real identity. Think about it, they could express mail a package hoping it would end up on a passenger plane, and have a barometer that would trigger it to explode when the plane is in the air.

I say every package should be inspected. If that can't be done, then stop shipping cargo on passenger planes. Actually, we should get rid of all cargo and checked luggage from passenger planes (and carry on and personal items) and just put it all on cargo planes. What we do is fly two planes to each location, one for the passengers only and one for luggage and any cargo that is also being shipped. Or we could get rid of checked luggage all together and have everybody ship their luggage separately.

Granted, our airports and skies are congested enough as it is, but what choice do we have in our quest for security. We could build high speed rail to reduce short to medium haul flights, which when factoring in check in time takes almost as long if not longer than taking a train. Using rail would also be cheaper for the traveler than flying, so who can complain. (The airlines, and anyone who's a terrorist.) Additionally, you could use your cell phone on a train, and we all know how important being constantly connected 24/7/365 is to us these days. Actually, if people can use their cell phones that might make me want to fly instead, but I digress.

This would in addition to making us secure also reduce the weight of passenger planes and thus the amount of fuel needed and therefore the ticket cost. Actually, it would probably just end up balancing out the increasing weight of Americans, keeping the cost the same. We could use cargo hold for a lounge, bar, restaurant, etc, or more likely to cram more people onto planes. If it was the latter, we could consolidate flights freeing up runway space for the additional cargo planes needed. So we wouldn't have to cut the number of seats available, but would gain better security. Of course, your luggage is more likely to be loss, which really sucks when you are not allowed carry on either, nor your laptop or cell phone, but freedom isn't free. We have gone too long in this war on terror without having to make real sacrifices.


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