Friday, April 9, 2010

Mischief In The Air

There have been 35 incidents of diverted flights due to suspicious activity on airliners so far this year . . . more than double the number during the same period last year, according to ABC News.
The occurrences range from the ridiculous, (a suspicious Christmas ornament), to genuine concern, (a passenger trying to open the aircraft exterior door in the middle of a flight to Las Vegas), to "How could he not know not to joke about bombs on airplanes . . . especially when you are IN an airplane. . . especially when you are a foreign diplomat . . . on his way to visit an imprisoned Al Queda operative ? ? ? "
Its not so funny when USA fighter jets are scrambled to escort the airliners to earth. And it is very expensive.
Isaac Yeffet, former head of security for El Al, suggests that instead of scrambling F-16s, we should put an air marshal on every flight, domestic and international, rather than only randomly selected flights. In this week's incident there was an air marshal on board, who was able to assess the situation and bring it to a non-violent conclusion. There was no need for the F-16s, after all.
Of course, as I am apt to do, I can't help but hark back to what it was like working on airplanes in the 1950s. It might have been during the Cold War, but passengers could observe the flight deck during flight while talking to the pilots; walk around the airplane to their hearts content; curl up in a roomy, comfortable seat with a pillow and blanket for a nap; eat a hearty meal and leave their luggage to the baggage handlers - for free - okay, okay, I'll stop.