Travelers' Aid: How Travel is Going to Change (9/14/2001)
Rudy: Diana, I just spoke to an old friend, Neil Livingstone, Chairman and CEO of GlobalOptions, an international risk management and business intelligence firm.
Diana: How did he think this horrific event would affect travel in the future?
Rudy: Well, he said there'd be heightened security: more checking of bags, no curbside check-in...a lot of things that are already happening. Department of Transportation secretary Norm Mineta has already cancelled curbside check-in and internet or hotel check-in. He's also closed all security zones to people without tickets.
Diana: What'll that mean for our experience at the airport?
Rudy: It'll mean much more time and inconvenience at the airport...There were a couple more controversial things that Neil said might happen. The first was what's called "federalizing" airport security. In pretty much all the developed nations, airport security personnel are government employees, and, well, Neil made the strongest case...I'll let him tell you...
Tape from Neil: Here, the airlines and the airport authorities are responsible for a lot of the security. So who do they give it to? The lowest bidder. So the people that take care of your security in airports today, if they weren`t working security, are essentially the same people who`d be flipping burgers at McDonalds.
Diana: Those are pretty strong words.
Rudy: They are, but everyone has known for a long time that security in our airports is abysmal. In 1999, the Department of Transportation tested it...DOT inspectors managed to breach security 120 times in 8 major airports.
Diana: Wow. You said there were two controversial things.
Rudy: I did, and the second is, if anything, more controversial than the first: Profiling. I'm sure we're going to argue about profiling here in the US for some time, but Neil did tell me an amazing story about a pregnant Irish woman kept off an El Al flight at Heathrow in London on a hunch...and there were other things Neil told me that he'd like to see us imitate El Al on. Their baggage holds are hardened, which once again will absorb shrapnel and will absorb some of the blast. El Al also never lets it's planes come up to gates… passengers have to be bussed out to their plane, and point out their own luggage so no unaccompanied luggage goes on the plane.
Diana: That's starting to sound pretty extreme.
Rudy: A lot of it couldn't be done here. After all, El Al has relatively few routes and serves a country that's tiny by comparison with the US. Oh and Diana, forget about shopping...
Tape From Neil: Many airports are operated almost as shopping malls. And that's after you've already passed through the security...
Diana: It's like McGyver meets our worst nightmare Rudy. Are you going to travel again soon?
Rudy: Yeah, I'm off to Europe next week. I know that there are risks… there always have been… but you also have to remember that Neil Livingstone gets paid to think of worst-case scenarios. And in the end, I'm glad he does.
Diana: OK, but let's move on to something more pleasant.
Rudy: I agree. Let's talk about what the airlines are doing...
Rudy: ...And last, Midway Airlines has cease operations.
Diana: Wait a minute, Midway was our Deal last week, wasn't it?
Rudy: It's OK Diana, they're making arrangments for passengers on other carriers.
Diana: I guess there's no sense in talking about deals this week.
Rudy: Actually Diana, I do have one: give what you can to the Red Cross. Blood, money, time… it could help save lives, and there's not better deal than that.
Diana: Couldn't agree more. Thanks Rudy. You take care. And travel safe...
If you'd like us to address your travel questions or concerns, send us an email. Or, you can snail-mail them in. The address is The Savvy Traveler, in care of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007. Or call us at 888-SAV-TRAV.
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