16 February 2007

Aviation security hysteria

Fucking security hysteria. Where is the cost/benefit analysis, where is the risk assessment? What is the likelihood of a flight to Niue causing havoc compared to one to Dunedin? Of course, has anyone told security people about how liquids are not the only way to make a bomb? Planes have alcohol on board, and glasses (these can break and be used as weapons) and crockery... there is no end to the risks of flying - and of course it wouldn't take much for half a dozen likely men to simultaneously open a couple of doors midflight.
Remember when New Zealand had absolutely no domestic air security? It still does, whenever you fly on an Air NZ turboprop plane (i.e. all Air NZ link flights) there is no check as to whether or not you have a machete, caustic soda or something metallic in your underwear - so you see Al Qaeda can plan its attack on the Beehive using an Air NZ ATR-72 - which of course it wont.
You see, this is because apparently the 6am flight from Wellington to Sydney is a risk, and the Aussies wont let us fly planes there unless we screen them all. Sydney, Perth and Norfolk Island are all the same risk.
So whether you are flying to LA, Norfolk Island, Adelaide, Papeete, Niue or Osaka, you will face the following:
"From 31 March, all international air travellers leaving New Zealand will only be able to carry onto an aircraft liquids, gels and aerosols in containers of 100ml or less, and only as many containers as fit into a single resealable plastic bag of one litre volume. Flysmart is designed to inform those travelling overseas how they can comply with the new standards without causing any disruption to their travel plans or to the plans of other passengers. There will be exemptions for medicines, baby food and essential dietary supplies, but these items will be subject to additional checking by security staff".
Some little anally retentive wanker thought that up didn't he? "one litre volume" like some self righteous little wannabe school prefect who likes telling people what to do, who enjoys confiscating some elderly woman's perfume because she didn't know any better and goes off at lunchtime bragging about the people he has harassed before going to the loo to have a wank of his pencil dick. Security and safety fascists must be the worst parents ever, with either the most rebellious or most militaristic kids, and with a secret BDSM fetish demanding that they are in turn told what to do by someone else.
Now I know the EU and US have this, but there are no non-stop flights from NZ to Europe, and only flights to Honolulu, LA and San Francisco to the US - all of which already have secondary security at Auckland airport, so it isn't Europe and the US. The hysteria is because Australia is doing the same.
This is completely disastrous for all sorts of reasons. It will mean:
- No deodorant for many travellers;
- Dehydration (so damned well demand water from airlines, ask flight attendant for water more often - damn them if they wont respond to security mania). I used to buy a large bottle of water to carry on board flights between NZ and Europe to cover what is around 30 hours of travelling, now you'll have to deal with whatever is available airside at the terminal - which wont be cheap;
- Medications without prescriptions. So if you have a cold before you fly, nothing. If you are an asthmatic, you probably don't keep prescriptions with your Ventolin.
Presumably efforts to negotiate with Australia an exemption for New Zealand have failed miserably (I hope there have been efforts).
Of course this will be a windfall for airside shopping in all international airports - not so bad in Auckland, rather dire in Wellington and Christchurch and disastrous in the likes of Hamilton and Palmerston North. So airport companies have NO incentives to oppose this. Neither with no frills airlines like Jetstar and Freedom Air, who sell you food on board. Of course it makes it even more advantageous to fly first, business and premium economy classes where it is easy to get more to drink (and especially as airlines make most of their revenue from these).
In typical New Labour style, the campaign has a "kool" catchy name "Flysmart". This is so it seems like new restrictions on your travel are GOOD for you, or you could call it "Slyfart" instead.
Well I am going to have to:
- Spend money airside on things I can buy landside cheaper ande better;
- Waste time taking little plastic bags to carry objects more inert than many other things on planes, and waste time thinking about it;
- Stand in queues behind people who don't know any better.
I wish people would fly smart, I wish they would do the following things:
- Fill out your frigging departure car/arrival card before entering the queue;
- Get your ticket/passport out before you checkin, and have your boarding pass ready for the gate and when you get on the plane, idiots;
- Don't take children under the age of 8, they are a nuisance and it is beyond me why it is cheaper for them to fly than adults, they take up the same space, use the toilet as often, need their own meals and get more cabin attendant attention;
- Don't hang around the gate waiting to board - you don't board first, I do, along with all the other frequent flyers who keep the airline business afloat;
- Don't rush up to get out of the plane the moment the seatbelt sign is off, the gangway/steps aren't ready yet, the plane isn't going to leave the airport with you on board and don't push forward if you sit in the back, you don't leave first, I do, along with all the other frequent flyers... because you see, our luggage comes off first too. You can leave first when you pay for the privilege of sitting up front or become Prime Minister;
- Don't keep coins in your pockets, wear large metal jewellery etc before security - you slow it up for everyone else you fool;
- Don't negotiate for an upgrade, you will fail. Upgrades are granted spontaneously or to those who pay for them through points/frequent flyer status etc;
- Turn your cellphone off before you get on board, keep it off until you leave. It has little to do with safety, but you can wait less than half an hour before talking. Please stare disapprovingly at anyone doing this too, it ought to be socially unacceptable;
- Seriously obese people should lose weight, sit in a higher class or buy two seats - sorry you're not entitled to both armrests and other people's sitting space;
- don't stand to pee unless you're very very good at it (in other words competent) and clean up afterwards if you ignore it;
- Don't carry so much luggage that you don't know what to do with it at your seat, what were you planning on doing, camping out?
- Don't sneeze or cough without fully covering your mouth and nose.
There is NO good reason for this to be universal (saving money is not a reason, what value time and convenience and freedom? We could all save money if the government approved all our private spending according to whether it was good for us). There does NOT need to be insane security flying to the Pacific Islands, Asia or South America - and given the majority of people flying to Europe fly through Asia, at least give them 12 or so hours without this nonsense on their final leg to Europe. You see I can fly Hong Kong or Singapore to Auckland with my water but not the other way.
Security is important, but the least secure place in New Zealand is not travelling on a Boeing 737 flying to Norfolk Island - it is the streets and houses in certain parts of the country. People involved with security will always err on the side of restricting freedom - like the Police. Every single proposal I ever read from the Police involved having more powers, more laws and more ability to intervene in peoples' lives - for their own good.
It would be nice if the government had said it reluctantly has decided to proceed with this for flights to Australia only, but will seek an annual review of the security arrangements with Australia and will not unnecessarily inconvenience or delay travellers to other destinations (except the US) when there is no reason to do so.
However, that's too hard. By the way, I wonder if this security also applies to Ministers and to Broomsticks 1 and 2 when they fly overseas to any destination? I wonder how long it is before all cutlery are banned on board, belts too, alcohol, glasses, or indeed you're never allowed to leave your seat unless accompanied to the toilet by a flight attendant (!). After all, it's for your own good!
However most of you are such sheeple, you'll just baaah and say "musn't grumble". You see your fear about security catching flights to Australia makes me laugh, when I can catch a main line train in the UK into any major London station with absolutely no security checks whatsoever - into Kings Cross, Euston, Victoria, Paddington, Liverpool Street. I can catch the tube without such checks.... so how many NZ-Singapore flights have been targeted by terrorists compared to the tube? Go on.... explain that away petty NZ security advisors please?


Eric Crampton said...

You've seen Bruce Schneier's stuff on security theatre, right?

The whole thing is a horrible waste of everyone's time and a worrying erosion of liberty -- we become enured to lines, checkpoints, and showing our papers; the spirit of freedom withers.

One of the things I liked most about moving to NZ from the US in 2003 was that airports here hadn't turned into armed camps.

Callum said...

When I went to America in September 06, we had to go through two metal detectors in Auckland airport, and after the second on we (including children) had to do that airplane thing afterwards. Luckily we didn't have too much metal things with us so it was fairly straightforward.

The Global Traveller said...

Pretty disappointing that once again NZ blindly follows Australia, which in turn blindly follows US. The farce is exposed by the long lead time (Australia announced their changes months ahead of time).

Like you I enjoy that travelling around this part of the world isn't subjected to the security paranoia nonsense of US and Europe. Annoyed that it is spreading here.