Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflections on the NWA bomb attempt

Jasper Schuringa The news here is filled with emerging details of the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253.  It’s unsettling to watch: I’ve taken that flight lots of times, working my way from Amsterdam towards Minneapolis or Seattle.   It sounds like it all happened extremely quickly; I always wonder how fast or how correctly I would react in that sort of situation.  Hopefully it never comes to a test.

It’s hard for me to imagine how the bomber got through security at Schiphol. The airport has security screenings at each gate, so even transfer passengers would have gone through an interview, a metal detector, and a baggage screening before boarding.  Pat-downs aren't unusual, and the news reports from Amsterdam say that all security procedures were followed. 

merry-crisis I’m sure that this incident is going to make a mess of flying for months to come. Security will ratchet up, screenings will slow down, there will be new carry-on restrictions.  I’ve already received notice from Air Canada to arrive an hour earlier and to limit myself to only one carry-on bag (excess checked baggage fees arte being waived).  Whole-body scanner / sniffers are a likely part of the future.

I also remember the mix of people typically on that flight, a plane often filled with tall, fit Dutch students and businessmen. I have little doubt that at least a dozen people would have been more than a match for the  bomber.  The Sunday morning interview programs are featuring interviews with Jasper Schuringa, the young film director who apparently leaped all the way across the cabin (20J to 19A) as the incident began.  His description of putting a hammerlock on the bomber sounds like a case example of Dutch directness.


Anonymous said...

I must admit that I'm glad I won't be flying any time soon. It's not so much the worry about another terrorist as it is the dread of dealing with the airport side of things. I still have the memories of flying between LaGuardia and O'Hare a month after September 11. Madness!

I'm not sure if this is going to be a regular thing or if it's just a temporary measure, but I gather now many flights aren't letting you get up or read or do anything really for the last hour of the flight. I hope your flight back goes smoothly and quickly!

Dave Hampton said...

So far, not bad. The lines are lighter than usual and the security check went smoothly and quickly. It may be that I am leaving the country rather than entering, which could escape the worst of the pat-downs and baggage unpacking.