The best strategy I have found for reducing the aggravation of security screening is to pretend I am a terrorist and think about where the weaknesses are in security, and how I might slip through. I think I figured out a way to get a gun or explosives into the White House during the George W. Bush administration. I only got invited to the White House once, however, so I never got a chance to test my theory for real on a return visit.
Traveling to Ireland recently, I learned of the latest anti-terror prevention method that the Irish have put into place. In addition to taking laptops out of your carry-on bag and putting them in separate bins, security personnel in the Dublin airport also demand that you take another item out of your carry-on for more careful scrutiny: umbrellas. For the life of me, I cannot think of what evil I would do with an umbrella, or even more to the point, what evil I could do with an umbrella that would be prevented by having me take it out of my carry-on and put it directly on the conveyor belt. I asked the screener why umbrellas go directly on the belt, but her accent was quite thick so I couldn’t understand her answer. I thought I heard the word “poking” in there somewhere.
Learning about the possible dangers posed by umbrellas has dramatically reduced my utility. Now, every time I fly on a domestic U.S. flight, where the treatment of umbrellas in security is far more cavalier, I will spend the entire flight in fear that a rogue umbrella has made its way onto the plane.
One thing is for sure: if I ever see a passenger pull an umbrella out of her carry-on while a flight is airborne, I will tackle her first and ask questions later!