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Lets get rid of domestic airline security

Posted 7 years ago in Xero news by Rod Drury
Posted by Rod Drury

Here’s a crazy idea for New Zealand. Lets get rid of domestic airline security.

Having just done a 5 hop US tour where security is understandably extreme you can’t help but think of all the wasted hours since the terrible events of 9/11.

I’m struggling to remember back 10 years ago before those days and I feel for people under 25 who have only known the dehumanizing process that has become normal for us all when we travel.

And it’s getting worse. Now there are body scanners that take take photos of your squashed naked form.

It’s natural for security to advance so I expect things to get even more stringent over time.

But maybe a little country like New Zealand can do something different. Maybe we can reverse the trend back to the assumption that people are fundamentally good and that we are not afraid.

Being free spirited is what we stand for. What a better way to demonstrate this by being the first country to reverse the trend. I think it’s on brand for New Zealand and will be a huge boon for our tourism industry. It’s also an interesting experiment thant other countries will watch. Great for our profile.

If just dismantling the scanners is too big a first step, why not instead of having 10 people standing around, 1 person jumps on the flights as security just in case something happens.

We only have one life, wouldn’t it be better not having to queue.

What do you think?


Nigel Ramsay
August 21, 2011 at 8.17 am

+1 from me.

Are we really threatened by terrorists?

And think of the savings as we ditch the Security Surcharges.

Rhys Lewis
August 21, 2011 at 8.35 am

I’ll miss getting to see what kind of laptops everone has.

To be honest, the 5 minutes in a domestic security queue in nz is one of the shortest boring waits in the whole trip. What about putting the bagel bites and hummus under your seat where the life jacket goes? Or unloading people from the plane if they board first even though they have an ailse seat.

Perhaps instead of hiring four people in blue polyester uniforms to stare at X-rays they could hire a comedian to work the crowd and smoke out terrorist types. “hey you – nervous sweaty guy. Are you afraid of flying or is that a bomb you’re carrying?”

August 21, 2011 at 9.02 am

Yesterday I flew ChCh to Wtgn, Wtgn to Nelson without waiting in any security line whatsoever.
Boarding pass scanned, walked onto the Tarmac and into the plane – easy as that.

Doug Hanna
August 21, 2011 at 9.39 am

I love it.

I wonder how many real “threats” are actually found in NZ. it would make for a really interesting debate if NZ has never arrested a suspect boarding a plane because of “threatening stuff” found in security.

Imagine the money saved on replacing confiscated nail scissors

August 21, 2011 at 9.49 am

It would be interesting to know how many potential terrorists have been stopped – but don’t forget that airport security is supposed to act as a deterrent to terrorists turning up in the first place.

Ben Copsey
August 21, 2011 at 1.37 pm

Well this scan everyone approach isn’t where IATA are heading in terms of the worldwide experience they want passengers to have – we need to move to a profiling / risk screening approach and embrace trusted traveller statuses for frequent flyers like yourself. Along the way we all might need to forego some privacy to enable sharing of information across the multitude of interested agencies with currently disparate information holdings – let them do this, the innocent have nothing to fear and should expect a facilitated experience as a result. This approach isn’t new in NZ, 15 years ago NZ Customs embraced an approach based on risk screening so they didnt need to touch all passengers and the same is done for most freight. The TSA in the US and the aviation security folks here are behind the times on this one. But then again as Bruce Schneier calls it this “security theatre” exists to either a) try and catch the threat through 100% intervention or b) to be seen to be doing everything possible should a threat slip through to avoid blame.

August 21, 2011 at 2.33 pm

I’d ask move why security has to be so invasive? Casinos are one of the most secure places in the world, more than the average airport if you ask me. Yet when was the last time you felt like a terrorist when you went to a casino?

Berend de Boer
August 22, 2011 at 8.22 am

Absolutely Rod!

We want real security, not this security theatre. Remember that the only plane that didn’t hit the target on 9/11 was the one where people fought back.

But let me tell you why it won’t happen: your proposal removes power from the government. It’s intention is to make us children, who have to wait for them to do anything, and call for support when something happens. Admitting there’s another way ain’t gonna happen.

August 22, 2011 at 4.46 pm

Do they have the body scanners for domestic flights?

New Zealand security is fairly lax – non-existent on the little planes, and not stressful on the bigger ones.

In NZ I pop my laptop into one tray, phone/wallet/keys/sunglasses/watch into the next, then send my bags through. Walk through the metal detector, it beeps due to my belt, show the person with the wand the back of my belt buckle, spend 15 seconds being wanded, and away I go.

At the end of last year I flew from Belfast to Edinburgh (which is a domestic flight). Was on an ATR-72, so a similar flight would get no security in NZ.

I popped my laptop into a tray. Phone/wallet etc into the next. And took my belt off and popped that into a tray. And removed my liquids and popped those into a tray. Sent my other bags through and was about to walk through the machine, but got stopped. Hoodie (hood wasn’t up) off and into a tray. In my wife’s case, shoes off and into a tray – I got to keep mine. Passports were in my pocket – they had to come out and go into a tray. If anyone is counting I’m up to about 6 or 7 separate items through the machine by now and wearing as little as socks, a tshirt and jeans that aren’t being held up well.

Walk through the metal detector and it goes off. Turns out they do random checks even if you don’t have metal on you. After this I was frisked – full pat-down, including in my shoes – might as well have taken them off anyway.

I got off pretty lightly though – we ended up waiting 25 minutes for my sister-in-law who forgot about the 25ml bottle of perfume we gave her. Bad idea.

I’ve wasted significantly more time in NZ airports with delayed planes, me arriving at the airport early, needing to check in 1.5 hours before international flights, etc than I have with security. A non-issue really.

August 22, 2011 at 4.49 pm

@Doug Hanna: Ideally they won’t find anyone. The fact they have thorough security in place should act as a disincentive. I make sure that I’m not carrying liquids over 150ml, pocket knives, etc because I know what’s there. Anyone intent on causing damage will know that they’re not going to get through with a knife, so won’t try.

Rhys Gibson
August 22, 2011 at 5.04 pm

I’m with Rod on this one. Security is a cost vs. return trade off and much of the existing processes are high cost and low return. Psychologically, people feel safer because they can see security happening in front of them, but in reality we’re not safer because:
1. The hit rate for these checks actually catching a bad guy is very low;
2. The false-positive hit rate is too high; and
3. The inconvenience is too high.

Good security comes from broad preventative measures – such as good investigative capability and hardened cockpit doors (as examples). Psychologically, it comes from people refusing to be afraid.

Accountants in Kent
August 25, 2011 at 10.20 pm

It would only take one incident for this to go terribly wrong.

Aaron Green
August 26, 2011 at 11.02 pm

couldnt agree more with Berend! It’s theatre to make the honest people feel safer. Besides who needs to carry a knife on a plane when you have a MacBook Air with its super sharp lid.

Justin Hygate
August 27, 2011 at 10.41 pm

In what other job in New Zealand is it acceptable for staff members to talk to each other while ignoring the client? The Aviation Security Service personnel invariably are having some in depth conversation with each other while I present my bag for them to check, they will more often than not carry on chatting and make me feel like I am interrupting their day. I suspect a lot of their behaviour is a response to having to wear that awful shade of blue…

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