View Full Version : Fuel load now a factor in selecting flights for extra security screening

6th May 2004, 10:16
This story in yesterday's Washington Post (erxcerpts below) seemed to stem from someone on a particular United flight between LAX and IAD blurting to the media about the rigorous screening procedures that were used. Passengers apparently got to wondering whether the flight had been targeted in some way, and a bit concerned about that. Ah, but not to worry. The Department of Homeland Security is now putting certain flights through rigorous screening simply based on how much fuel will be in the tanks, and where it will be flying to or from.

Bush administration officials yesterday acknowledged that United Airlines Flight 200, a nonstop from Los Angeles to Dulles, was among several "flights of interest" that warranted extra scrutiny but that the additional security was not prompted by a specific threat or new intelligence. Officials said the agency began targeting certain flights on a variety of airlines and routes earlier this year as part of a new layer of security based on improved processing of risk-assessment information.

"We do maintain an ongoing list of 'flights of interest' -- both foreign and domestic flights and carriers," said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Mark Hatfield.

The TSA flags the flights based on factors such as whether a flight operates between certain cities that have been targets in the past by terrorists, such as Los Angeles, Washington and New York. It also targets certain flights involving larger aircraft, such as coast-to-coast departures, that have been known to be more attractive to terrorists because they carry more fuel. Other targeted flights might be headed to cities where a high-profile event is taking place, such as a Super Bowl.

Some airline pilots say they would like to know more about the threat reporting behind the security designation. The pilots say they are entitled to know all information about a flight that has been flagged for extra scrutiny and they resent being singled out for additional security checks in front of passengers.

"As the captain, I'm responsible for everything that goes on," said a United captain who flew one of the Los Angeles-Washington flights with stepped-up security. "I have to be informed of all available information in order to make a decision whether these flights are safe to make."

The captain, who asked that his identity not be revealed because he feared repercussions from government officials, said he and his flight crew and passengers received additional scrutiny at the gate before boarding the plane in Los Angeles. All luggage and catering supplies were screened with explosive-detecting machines, and bomb-sniffing dogs combed the plane before anyone was allowed on board. The pilot said he was followed by security personnel as he performed a routine walk-around check of the aircraft and prepared for the flight in the cockpit.

United Airlines recently distributed an e-mail to the company's pilots alerting them to expect extra security on certain flights.

"We have been advised by the TSA that it will periodically designate certain 'flights of interest,' " said the e-mail, written by the carrier's manager of line operations, Mark Sebby. "On these trips, you can expect additional screening of the aircraft, crew members, [passengers] and hand luggage, including crew possessions. The TSA has not given us a reason for this designation. However, we have been informed that other airlines have flights that are subject to the same unilateral security measures."

The United e-mail tells pilots that it will alert them if they are scheduled on a flight with the additional security procedures.

"This is not the first time this has happened in the airline industry -- it has happened with a number of other airlines," said spokesman Jeff Green.

The Department of Homeland Security also began testing use of explosives testing devices at a lightly used railroad station (a thousand daily passengers) this past Monday. Passengers walk through a device that shoots puffs of air at them and sniffs for any explosive residue, and have their bags or parcels put through a bomb detection device. Video of the process indicated this took 10 to 15 seconds per passenger, and there were about 5 or 6 screeners staffing the security checkpoint. The Department officials acknowledged that it was completely infeasible to use this process and these devices at every station on a rail or mass transit line, or at any station with large numbers of passengers, e.g., Penn Station in New York with 600,000 daily passengers. To say nothing about the cost.

This is beginning to look like an agency witrh too many people with too much idle time on their hands.

6th May 2004, 10:46
And if you happen to fart as you go past the explosive sniffer?

"Freeze Motherf***er. Up against the wall and assume the position!" Followed by a little session chatting to those psychopaths who torture Iraqi civilians?

No wonder foreign visitors are turning away from the US in droves!!

Golf Charlie Charlie
6th May 2004, 11:34
No wonder foreign visitors are turning away from the US in droves!!

They're not actually. Foregin visitor numbers to the US rose in first quarter 2004, versus 2003, largely due to the fall in the value of the dollar. The biggest increase was from visitors from the UK, ironically.

6th May 2004, 11:58
Letīs face it. we all love a bargain! People will put up with being treated like a terrorist if they save 100 quid on an iPod. Probably speaks volumes for the U.S and the crazy prices we pay for stuff in the U.K

Golf Charlie Charlie
6th May 2004, 12:06
I'm sorry, but this anti-Americanism that infects this forum is shameful, and as a Brit I am embarrassed. You are not treated as a terrorist when you go to and enter the United States. It is barely different from before 9/11. I wonder how many of you actually visit the US.

Oscar Duece
6th May 2004, 12:25
Strange thing (I thought) happened to me on the last visit across the pond.
Left plane and joined the throngs at imigration. As usual someone got to the desk and hadn't filled in his green slip, so was sent to the back of the mile long q with everyone muttering various jibes.
The usual stone faced officers spend a good few minutes with everone as normal. So the wife and I walk up to the counter, hand over passports. Scans them, looks at screen then simply says has have a nice stay Mr *** and off we go. No where are you staying, how long, how are you going to pay for things etc.
Never had that before and no one infront had such a quick entry. Who do they think I am ??:uhoh:

6th May 2004, 12:42
>>No wonder foreign visitors are turning away from the US in droves!!<<

Spread the word, it's terrible here. Trust me, you wouldn't like it.

And tear up all those green card applications...

6th May 2004, 12:50
You're not treated like a terrorist, given, but a suspect, probably.

And an idiot, definitely, which is ironic considering some of the schmucks working the security desks.

BTW, there is a difference between lambasting US airport security, the war on terror, the war in iraq, ad nauseum, and being anti-American. I wish people could make the distinction sometimes. :(

6th May 2004, 12:51
GCC, apparently the US government are concerned about falling visitor numbers:

"This hurts us," Secretary of State Colin Powell said, citing a 30 percent decline in overseas visits to the United States over 2 1/2 years. "It's not serving our interests. And so we really do have to work on it."

-Colin Powell, 20th April '04 to the House Judiciary Committee.

'Barely Different from before'. I suppose that depends on your opinion of being photographed and finger-printed on entry.

Why is criticism of America 'anti-American'? I don't agree with much of what the American government are doing at the moment but I certainly don't consider myself 'anti-American'.

6th May 2004, 16:26
that you stand in and blows puffs of air at you is already in-use at a certain UK airport.

You still have to go through the X-Ray machine after that as well.

6th May 2004, 17:08
I flew UA from LHR-EWR in 1999, long before the 9/11 attacks and I checked in with my girlfriend and my best mate. All of us had lived in Dubai, and as such had lots of arabic stamps in our passports from Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai etc. My friend had also been to Lebanon and had stamps from there.

We spent a good twenty minutes being questioned individually bythe security staff at LHR who then went off together to compare any discrepancies in our story.

We went through in the end, and not an eyelid was batted at the other end in EWR.

7th May 2004, 09:08

People ARE treated like terrorists in the usa these days.Perhaps you,being a brit (the us's biggest ally/lapdog) don't get to experience it,but we citizens from elsewhere certainly do,and it usually leaves an extremely bad taste in ones mouth.

I know this for a fact,as we in South africa regularly hear stories of people arriving there to be met with arrogant,heavy-handed and rude,if not aggressive treatment. I recall one such story where a professor was travelling to the us to deliver a speech at a university on ten years of south african democracy ,only to be called aside before the end of the jetway at kjfk and interrogated and degraded for hours.this was in our press and radio media.

I also know that a friend of mine who captains Challengers and Globalexpresses was detained for twelve hours last year in the us and was very humiliated at being suspected of terrorism for the simple fact that he was 1/on a 1-way ticket (because he was on the way to fetch a brand new acft at the factory) 2/was accompanied by a flight bag and 3/had a large amount of us dollars cash for fuel on route back.

If this is the land of the free and the home of democracy,then i'm pope Gregory the ninth.:mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

My names Turkish
7th May 2004, 09:21
Golf Charlie Charlie: The Sunday Times says that Tourist Numbers are Down 30% this year, and are continuing to fall every month. What is you source for a rise in Numbers? Everyday there is a Horror story in the Papers about someone else getting treated like a criminal for minor rule infingements. I am a big fan of the US and love going there, and have always supported their security changes but they have passed a point where what they are doing them is more harm then it is doing them good. Wait and see what happens when the Biometric Passports are introduced. People just wont be bothered with the hassle of going to the Embassy to get a Visa or a New Passport, they will just pick somewhere else to go on Holiday.

Airbubba: You are like a stuck Record mate! Time for a new Catch Phrase....

7th May 2004, 10:55
>>Airbubba: You are like a stuck Record mate! Time for a new Catch Phrase....<<

You're right, I was insensitive to the less fortunate nationalities with my comment on tearing up green card applications.

How about: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door..." (Emma Lazurus 1849-1887)

7th May 2004, 12:47
I think the "1887" is the giveaway, no? How does the UK manage to have net immigration if we're all off to the US? Not everybody loves you, pal...

7th May 2004, 13:49
Getting back to the thread... The Americans are such a bunch of dear old fashioned sweethearts. Basing their plans for the future on what has happened in the past. :rolleyes:

The reason that Mr Bin Laden is so succesful is because he does not do things the same way, other than making big headlines with a big bang. Whatever is done next, they (and us in the UK) will not be ready for it.

As to the USA having to do something about the 30% drop in it's tourist rate ... they might start by un-electing the Bush baby and then consider some aspects of their foreign policy of the past 50 years.

Friends in the US have just announced that they are getting married this fall, which is irritating, as I had hoped to avoid going there this year.

My names Turkish
7th May 2004, 15:44
Airbubba: Thats much better!:p Nicer then the "Dont let the dorr hit ya in the butt on the way out" type of comment. I think phrases like that do you a big disservice and are a bit redneck and take away from well argued points.

7th May 2004, 15:46
In November of 2000 I had the pleasure of visiting Manchester. I recall hearing a newscaster talk about possible IRA bombers being in the area. The phrase was, "If you see any Irish-looking lads in your neighborhood and if they don't belong there, call the authorities."

I just about hit the roof. That describes half of my ancestry. If we had a family reunion in this town we would all be arrested for nothing other than looking Irish and being strangers.

Now, post 9/11 I read these sanctimonious posts about how the U.S. has changed. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

This was profiling, not at the airport, but anywhere. Just for looking Irish, whatever the heck that means. Are we talking the red haired, green-eyed, freckled Irish? The black haired, blue-eyed Irish? The newscaster's tone implied that his audience knew what he was talking about.

So I know that there will be plenty more posts about the U.S. and the T.S.A. but perhaps the British posters could do with some self-reflection instead of America bashing.


8th May 2004, 11:31
Seems that this thread is way outside its RNP. To try to get back on track, what exactly is wrong with concentrating resources on high-risk flights? You can bet your Nikes that flights to Athens will be getting extra attention at Olympics time, assuming the Greeks finish the roof.

What I resent about security in general, and US security in particular is:-

1. Why do I need a Crew visa to Operate to the US, when they do not need one to operate into Europe?
2. Why do Crew members have to be frisked in front of passengers?
3. Why is my ID checked, but when I ask to check the ID of security personnel air-side I get a very resentful refusal. Why can't I establish the bona-fides of people on my aircraft?

Focus security by all means, but keep the flight crew on-side, and don't go out of the way to p*ss us off. We are, after all, on the same side......:(