As you may have heard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is changing their policy to allow pocket knives and sporting equipment onto airplanes. I think this is finally a move towards common sense, and eliminating unnecessary security theater, but Flight Attendants don’t agree.
By approximately 9:45 AM on September 11th, the policy had changed from allowing the hijackers to have the plane to fighting back. Prior to September 11th, a hijacking meant the airplane would be diverted to a remote airport and after their demands were met, the airplane and hostages would be free to go. Once the policy changed, even if it wasn’t official, it was no longer possible for hijackers to take over an airplane and use it as a missile with items they could bring through security. The heroic passengers on United Flight 93 fought back and saved countless lives on the ground. With this same assumption, any airplane will be shot down as soon as it is known to be hijacked.
Even counting collateral damage, aircraft is the safest method of travel. In order to tie with car travel, a major terrorist attack would be required every year. With the new assumption, that an airplane will be used as a weapon and should be shot down if hijacked, we would have to see at least seven A380s hijacked every year for air travel to tie the safety record of car travel.
Given that air travel still remains the safest means of travel, what is the need for invasive pat-downs and virtual strip searches? I would suggest the only accomplishment is security theater. In fact, if you travel via a charter jet, including the same Boeing 737 you might fly commercial, there can be no security, and almost never will you find a flight with more than a metal detector. If a terrorist group wanted to use a jet as a weapon again, they would just need to find $30,000 to charter one.