Category Archives: Security

Airports and CAPPS

Last week, Michelle and I were travelling by plane on a domestic flight. En route to the airport, I had checked our flight status, and found out that it was cancelled. We got to the airport and found out that we were on a flight that was leaving just an hour later. We checked in and proceeded to security. We were both singled out for additional checks (shoes, belts, luggage, you name it. It turns out that one of the criteria that wins you automatic extra screening is any change in your itererary, even, as we found out, when you had no control over the change in the first place. You can tell if this is going to happen to you by looking on your bording pass: if you see an “s” by your name, you are about to be the lucky recipient of extra screening! Now you know.

As an addendum, I was flying a week or so earlier, and during the trip, I had been reading Bruce Schneier‘s book “Beyond Fear” (an excellent read, by the way). In it, he was talking about how to read the security screening lines at airports to never encounter extra attention. First, I guess he’s never had his itererary changed, and two, if there are no crowds, it’s difficult to do. I was flying home from Portland, OR, and while there was a large crowd of people at the ticketing counter, there was no-one at security (I waltzed through by using a self-serve kiosk – I highly reccommend them!). And I mean this literally – I was the only one there. These people must have been bored, because they had the metal scanner turned up to max sensetivity…I’m sure it was detecting the fillings in my teeth! I don’t fly a lot (7 or 8 times a year, including return trips), and I have never had my watch set off the detector (and it’s a decent-sized metal one), let alone the rivits in my jeans. I tried a few times, removing things (shoes and watch, anyway, I wasn’t going for the pants, don’t worry), but for naught – I had my first extra screening. Fortunately, the guy was really good and very friendly, and we ended up chatting for a bit. Made me feel a little better that my first experience with this didn’t fall into the horror-story category I’ve read about now and then.