A Hundred Pounds of Cocaine Seized Despite Several Security Breaches

Convicted drug smuggler breached security 7 times (Richmond Review)

Ironically, his unauthorized access to the customs hall was recorded by a new technology introduced the same year Von Holtum was caught, and designed to sound alarm bells.

Billed in January of 2007 by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority as “the world’s first dual biometric airport identification program for non-passengers acccessing restricted areas of the airport,” the RAIC (Restricted Area Identity Card) program was designed to detect and record the comings and goings of airport personnel, including whenever they enter restricted zones.

Security systems can be complex, especially in places like airports. For them to work, they have to bee well planned and someone has to be paying attention to them. In this case, it looks like there wasn’t a mechanism in place to bring several instances of odd behavior to the attention of officials.

Security technology, however awesome, can’t manage an organization. People have to do that.

On the other hand, security is usually redundant and provided in layers. The hundred-or-so pounds of cocaine, after all, was seized.

The Future: An Early Arrival at Love Field?

More and more people fly and the joy the experience brings has been at a continuous ebb since well before 9-11. We all know it is a drudge, and many of us remember it being different.

So, it’s not hard to see why brainstorming and daydreaming the Future of Air Travel™ is something of a cottage industry.

For examples, see:
Aviation Industry Researchers Predict Major Airport Overhauls Over the Next 15 Years,
Biometrics Will Enable the Takeoffs of Tomorrow, or
IATA Floats Airport Security Revamp

But most of us won’t need examples. We’ve had plenty of time to write all three of the above posts and the articles they reference while waiting our turn behind the travelers who arrived before us at the security checks to participate in the security ritual.

As Charles Dudley Warner* once said, “Everybody talks about how lame air travel has become, but nobody does anything about it.”

Until now…

‘Checkpoint of the future’ takes shape at Texas airport (USA Today)

At a terminal being renovated here at Love Field, contractors are installing 500 high-definition security cameras sharp enough to read an auto license plate or a logo on a shirt.

The cameras, capable of tracking passengers from the parking garage to gates to the tarmac, are a key first step in creating what the airline industry would like to see at airports worldwide: a security apparatus that would scrutinize passengers more thoroughly, but less intrusively, and in faster fashion than now.

According to this article, it’s actually being built, now, at Love Field, the spiritual and corporate home of Southwest Airlines.

This comes not a moment too soon. Another tidbit of the article sheds light on how the status quo just can’t hold:

The Federal Aviation Administration projects the number of passengers flying inside the USA will nearly double in the next 20 years, to 1.2 billion. Security has slowed since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Before then, about 350 people passed through checkpoints each hour, the IATA says. A November survey at 142 airports found processing times fell to 149 an hour, with the worst at 60, Dunlap says.

The math buried in this paragraph just doesn’t work out. The number of air passengers simply can’t double in the next twenty years if the current trend in security throughput continues.

1. Due to a lack of security capacity, passengers will be unable to get to their planes in time (or they will have to arrive at the airport so early that many will opt to drive to their destination), or
2. Expanding the current security apparatus to handle twice the volume will drive up the cost of air travel affecting demand.

Incremental change will no longer do. Each additional security hurdle added in response to a novel security threat brings the entire system one step closer to collapse. The air travel industry’s future depends not upon a rethink (Future of Air Travel™) but on a radical reinvention and implementation of the security apparatus.

Thankfully, unlike the weather, someone’s finally doing something about it. Biometrics can, and will, help.

 *Not Mark Twain

Korea & US Link Trusted Traveler Services

Good News For Travelers: Less Time Spent in U.S. Airports (Wall Street Journal – Asia)

Korean travelers heading to U.S. can sit back and relax knowing they now can spend less time waiting to go through immigration after a long-haul flight in a cramped seat.

On Tuesday, South Korea became the third nation after the Netherlands and Canada—and the first in Asia—to sign a reciprocal agreement with the U.S. that allows low-risk, pre-registered visitors to bypass the face-to-face checkpoints and use instead automated immigration kiosks with biometric identification, available at 25 international U.S. airports.

Just a note, since I’ve seen the error repeated elsewhere: Mexican nationals are also eligible to use the Global Entry kiosks as well as to avail themselves of the SENTRI program.

Also, according to this article, six countries have thus far joined the program – Britain, Holland, Qatar, Austria, New Zealand and Japan – while 250,000 American citizens have registered.

Three approaches to trusted traveler programs…

Clear, Global Entry and PreCheck are three distinct trusted traveler programs. Clear is a commercial effort. Global Entry is a government initiative. PreCheck is administered through the airlines.

It’s good to see the air transportation industry and government regulators trying several things at once in the hope that, as one traveler put it, it “makes travelling bearable again.”

Security checks eased for some air travellers in U.S. airports (Calgary Herald)

The pre-screening programs represent an effort to maintain security against terror attacks while limiting headaches for air travelers. The TSA, which faces constant scrutiny for the invasiveness of passenger screenings, can also be criticized for security lapses.

“On one hand, Congress bashes them for making it miserable for people who fly. But no one in Congress wants to be soft on security,” Bender said.

Airport security is anything but a science, experts say.

There’s more on each of the programs at the link.

Israel joins US’s Global Entry program

Tens of thousands of Israelis to enjoy expedited clearance in US airports for $100 fee (ynet)

Global Entry is a relatively new program initiated by the US administration which aims to ease the entry of foreign and American citizens to the US. Six countries have thus far joined the program – Britain, Holland, Qatar, Austria, New Zealand and Japan – while 250,000 American citizens have registered.

The program aims to help frequent travelers to the US, usually businessmen, diplomats and relatives of US citizens.

Mexico (SENTRI) and Canada (NEXUS) also have bilateral agreements with the US.

UK Border Management: Revolution on the Horizon

This is not the most convenient time for Britain to be undergoing a complete rethink about how it manages its border — the best time is always before a crisis — but the UK may no longer have the luxury of choosing the timing of a significant revamp.

UK Border watchdog attacks airport gridlock (Financial TImes – Reg. Req.)

Bad management of diminishing numbers of staff and failure to make the most of electronic scanning gates are behind the immigration gridlock at airports, says a report by the border watchdog.

John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, hit at the lack of any “cohesive” management plan at Heathrow, at a time when the Home Office faces mounting pressure to end long queues at the UK’s largest airport as well as Stansted and the Eurostar before this summer’s Olympic Games.

See also:
UK Border Scandal Update: Independent Inspector’s Report Published
UK: Airlines Warn Government of Potential Gridlock this Weekend
Does £9m Really Buy 60 Immigration Agents?
UK Struggling with Both Halves of International Traveler ID