“Profiling” to improve airport security?

“Profiling” to improve airport security?

An airline pilot or a celebrity should face less stringent security checks than a Yemeni student, according the chairman of British Airways. Sir Martin Broughton also called for the introduction of a “security light” lane for more trusted flyers.

In an address to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in London, he argued that it made more sense for “a risk-based approach to security rather than a one-size-fits-all based approach”, reports the Financial Times.

“Is it sensible to run exactly the same security checks on pilots – each and every time they fly – as, for example, a Yemeni student?” he argued.

He said pilots should be treated as the “the ultimate trusted traveller” for obvious reasons: “Let’s face it, they don’t need a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to do their damage if that’s what they were intent on.

“Making everybody suffer inconvenience in the name of uniformity doesn’t make any sense at all and reduces the quality of security by dissipating resources,” he said.

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“Well-known celebrities such as Henry Kissinger also get picked out, as do a number of infants,” he added.

Profiling has come under criticism as racist in some quarters, but Sir Martin said the “discriminatory overtones” were misplaced. “Making everybody suffer inconvenience in the name of uniformity doesn’t make any sense at all and reduces the quality of security by dissipating resources,” he told delegates.

He also described many of the checks as redundant.

“Customs pay much more attention to flights coming in from Jamaica than from Saudi Arabia, for example, in their search for illegal drugs. Why? Because history shows that’s where drugs come in from. It’s simple risk assessment.”

He also pointed to the merits of the US Global Entry System that allows approved passengers pass through immigration faster for a $100 fee, after they have undergone a series of security checks.

He said this would afford trusted frequent travellers “a kind of ‘security light’ approach”, and is a measure being studied by the International Air Transport Association.