Our trip to France ended on a dyspeptic note in its very last phase. After enjoying the comforts of French culture, cuisine and superb organizational skills for 16 days, we stepped into the paranoid world of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
We had cleared our passports at the passport control point and our luggage had cleared customs. We were quickly rolling our bags towards the exit when we ran into another line: We had to go through the entire security process once again, emptying our pockets, taking off our shoes, displaying the laptop, passing our bodies through a zone of light radiation and finally putting ourselves back together. When I say we, I mean every traveler on the plane.
Meanwhile, our suitcases chugged through an X-ray machine and into the bowels of the Pittsburgh International Airport’s state-of-the-1992-art luggage transport system. We were told we would find our suitcases in the L section of the baggage claim area. This re-security operation took the efforts of six people.
Now in what way is the United States safer because DHS wasted everyone’s time and spent all that money redoing what the French had already done? Hadn’t the French X-rayed our luggage, given us an extensive oral questionnaire, put us through the security process and checked our passports on eight separate occasions? French security even searched the Delta airline representative who led us on the bus from the gate to the aircraft. Then upon landing, U.S. personnel checked our passports and our luggage.
Why this extra layer? Does DHS think that people have access to their luggage while in flight? Or that a flight attendant sold someone something dangerous or useful to a terrorist attack that he found in the in-flight catalogue?
It was impossible for any passenger to acquire or store anything that could be construed as dangerous. The French do as good a job as we do, if not better, in managing security at airports. The rescreening is a total waste of money. As far as my experience and research shows, this recheck of security doesn’t happen anywhere else in the industrialized West.
The federal government would be better off ending these senseless additional screenings and reallocating these wasted funds to creating productive jobs, not “make busy” work.