Monday, August 01, 2005

Feelin' Safe?

For those of you who travel by plane often, I'm sure you're aware of the new security measures being taken at our airports. One new item that I don't recall when I flew to Dallas last April is the "Cleared" TSA sticker that was applied to my bag's standard luggage tag. I've heard that all pieces of luggage must pass through x-ray monitors now. I'm assuming that the "cleared" sticker is ~proof~ that the bag is safe.

What scares me is that it reminds me of the early 90s when I worked for a company that virus scanned floppy disks and then applied "clean" stickers on them. Sure, it makes sense that the disk was clean at that point, but what people failed to realize at that time was that the sticker represented that the disk was clean only at the time it was checked. If an individual took that disk to a computer that had a boot virus, for instance, the disk would be infected, yet still bear the "clean" sticker. It was a naive sense of security for a relatively naive time, technologically speaking. The same idea was used for individuals carrying a "HIV-free" card several years later -- again, a dumb and naive idea for a new concept in feeling secure.

Now, our bags are scanned and stickered. The stickers have the tear-perfs on them to show if the sticker has been tampered, but the silly thing is that the stickers are put on the tag that goes around the handle, not around the parts of the bag that could be opened. What's the point? If my bag, which has been "cleared" by someone at check-in, but then tampered with by someone in luggage handling, and then the final handler who puts the luggage on the plane double checks to see that the bag has been "cleared", has no idea of the tampering that took place when the bags changed hands and innocently lets the bag pass. Methinks there ought to be a better way. Maybe the scanning of the bags should take place immediately before they're put on the plane? Or maybe at check-in and again directly before boarding? If not that, maybe we shouldn't be wasting money on stickers that give a false sense of security??


Kim said...

It's just like the random bag checks in NYC on the subways. It's ultimately a futile act, but it makes everybody "feel" better.

Cat said...

Oh man, I didn't know they were doing that. Craziness. With the number passengers on NYC subways, there's no way they could even make a dent doing 'random' checks. I guess the good thing is that it gives someone a job?