Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Air Travel (
-   -   TSA says extra screening for those from terrorist countries? (

gail Jan 4th, 2010 02:17 AM

TSA says extra screening for those from terrorist countries?
Are they finally realizing what everyone else knows - that my 81 year old mother flying Boston to Miami (15 extra minutes at security) is not likely to have the same degree of risk as a single young male from Yemen? I stupidly thought they were quietly doing this already. Up until now I just put up with the nonsense of taking off my shoes, doing the hokey-pokey thru the metal detector, worrying if salad dressing for my carried snack is a liquid - but this is about pushing me over the edge. Is it that no one working for Homeland Security has half a brain or are we so worried about "profiling" that we have lost any element of sense? (Sorry - just needed to rant as I put my 19 year old on a flight to Athens)

Echnaton Jan 4th, 2010 02:37 AM

>>no one working for Homeland Security has half a brain<<

At Denver airport, they analyzed the skin creme of my 78-year-old MIL. But I can tell you, she can be worse than a terrorist!

At Chicago airport, they interrogated my son because he had an Egyptian stamp in his passport. The interrogation (I was present) went like this:

Officer: "What have you done in Egypt?"
I: "We have made a Nile cruise."
Officer: "What is the Nile?"
I: "A river."
Officer: "Where have you been in Egypt?"
I: "We have visited the pyramids."
Officer: "What are pyramids?"
I: "Monuments. Millions of tourists visit them annually." (I thought better not to mention that pyramids were tombs.)
Officer: "Did you meet Egyptian people?"
I: "No." (I thought better not to mention our tour guide.)
Officer (to my son): "Have you been to a terrorist training camp in Egypt? Have you learnt to build bombs?"
My son: "No."

Then it was over. The total thing including waiting time lasted 90 minutes. Luckily, our layover to the connecting flight was longer than that.

flanneruk Jan 4th, 2010 02:56 AM

The last two bombers America allowed onto US-registered planes were British and Nigerian.

The last (spectacularly incompetent) terrorist attack on a Western airport was by an Indian doctor, working in a Glasgow hospital, who drove an ordinary car at a crowd that probably included some of his own patients. The most recent mass murder in the West was by a Finnish nutcase. The most recent terrorist mass murder in the West was by a US citizen in that most suspicious of all categories - an army officer.

Precisely which country - apart from San Marino - is excluded in the phrase "from terrorist countries"?

gail Jan 4th, 2010 03:23 AM


There was just a list on the news - including countries such as Cuba, Libya, Iran - and specified that it was not limited to people carrying passports of these countries but those traveling thru these places. Am I missing something? Do we have direct flights to Iran? Have all those desparate people on unsafe boats trying to float to south Florida from Cuba missed the idea of just taking Delta?

CarolA Jan 4th, 2010 05:28 AM


Gee, a terrorist would NEVER fly to someplace like Amersterdam BEFORE they came to the US would they?

And as for your 81 year old mother... Sorry, but that's the whole problem. The TSA assumes a TERRORIST will look like they expect. Remember that in we have had soliders killed by pregnant women who were willing to blow themselves and thier unborn up.

Jeff_Costa_Rica Jan 4th, 2010 06:54 AM

It's not just flying directly from those countries. If you have visited any of those 14 countries, you're in for extra scrutiny too. There was just an article in November's Conde Nast Traveler about what an intriguing place Damsacus is to visit, and I was toying with the idea of going there this year. If a Syrian stamp in my passport is going to cause me problems, though, maybe not.

I agree with Carol. The minute we start singling out "the usual suspects," terrorist organizations will start using more "American looking" mules. I have a feeling a young Arab man is already getting a lot of extra scrutiny to begin with. If randomly subjecting an 81-year-old woman to extra security keeps terrorist organizations guessing, then so be it.

Dayenu Jan 4th, 2010 07:55 AM

"Are they finally realizing what everyone else knows - that my 81 year old mother flying Boston to Miami (15 extra minutes at security) is not likely to have the same degree of risk as a single young male from Yemen?"

Gail, they knew it all along. It's ACLU who still doesn't know that, and screams about profiling. Finally on TV they've started to talk about profiling of certain group of people boarding planes.

thursdaysd Jan 4th, 2010 08:19 AM

So the Syrian stamps in my passport are likely to cause me problems on my next trip? Maybe I should get a new passport.

alanRow Jan 4th, 2010 09:36 AM

<<< If you have visited any of those 14 countries, you're in for extra scrutiny too. >>>

There doesn't seem to be any time limit on it so if you visited one of those countries a decade ago then you better bend over.

It's also going to go down well in the oil industry as several of the countries mentioned are oil rich.

And if the person who has been to one of the Axis of Prostate travels to the US from some other country will that country be the ones responsible for doing the invasive searches?

And WTF is Cuba doing there? The only direct flights from the US are US government sanctioned for Americans of Cuban descent. What happens when Cuba decides not to play ball and refuses to apply the required level of intrusion - will the people have to stay in Cuba or will they be allowed to make their own boats to get back to the US.

And then there's the air crew, they'll be subject to these measures and if they work for a major airline then the chances are they'll pass through one of those countries at some point

alanRow Jan 4th, 2010 09:39 AM

Dayenu as Flanneruk points out, the average terrorist isn't someone with a nightie and a towel on their heads.

You can't tell people's religion by looking at them and Muslims come in all colours

So profiling by race or religion is a non-starter

gail Jan 4th, 2010 11:31 AM

I guess I did not make myself really clear on my views at 6 AM - I certainly realize that no terrorist is flying with an "I am a terrorist" tatoo and also realize that we should never exclude old ladies, babies, blonds from security. My main point was that I thought TSA was already subjecting to extra security certain situations - including method of ticket purchase, whether person had baggage, etc.

And I still wonder, only half kidding, if you parked some really nosey and perceptive people around the airport, whether informal behavioral observations would accomplish quite a bit - I have a few friends who would be willing to sit around the airport with me all day, drinking coffee, and people watching.

CarolA Jan 4th, 2010 11:45 AM

So if you don't have a Cuban stamp in your passport you won't be considered dangerous....

But Cuba, knowing how we feel about them, routinely does not stamp passports...

Hmm... The Thousands Standing Around have a new problem. What if I don't have a passport stamp, what if I have TWO passports, what if I have dual citizenship, and on and on and on...

alanRow Jan 4th, 2010 12:20 PM

There's a case on another forum of someone who was born in the Sudan - yet has never lived in the Sudan since it gained her independence - and she's a white grannie.

CubFanAlways Jan 4th, 2010 02:57 PM

Gail, you’re right on!

The idea that all people present the same sort and degree of risk are the conclusions of idiots. Unfortunately, idiots on both sides of the aisle would rather see you blown to bits at 37,000 feet instead of having someone curl their lip at them.

Suppose I wanted to find an illegal alien. (I don’t fall for the PC word “undocumented”, as though I misplaced a sales receipt.) Where would be the best chance of finding one? A) The White, Black, or Asian driving a BMW on Michigan Avenue in Chicago or B) The Spanish-only speaking Latino looking for day work on Agoura Road in Agoura Hills, California? Chose carefully, because your life depends upon it!

The PC crowd says the two choices are identical. Otherwise, you are – gasp! – profiling!

Suppose you are in a strange city. It’s 2:00 am. You are hopelessly lost with no way to contact anyone or get help. A car pulls up with four young men, music blaring. They say they will help you. Another car pulls up with a man, woman, and two kids asleep in their car seats. They offer to help you too.

Who will you pick? It’s a coin toss. One choice is as equally risky as the other, right? <i>Otherwise you are guilty of the heinous crime of profiling.

Melnq8 Jan 4th, 2010 03:44 PM

My spouse and I were routinely grilled during the 11 years we lived in and regularly traveled to and from the Middle East and Indonesia. Questions like, what were you doing there, who do you work for, how long have you lived there, what is your business in the US, blah, blah, blah.

Our new passports don't have any 'suspicious' stamps, so we pretty much fly through US immigration these days, although on my last trip into SFO from Australia I was closely questioned about how much money I was bringing into the US, which seemed kind of strange.

Melnq8 Jan 4th, 2010 03:48 PM

Could someone please list the 14 countries you're referring to?

Jeff_Costa_Rica Jan 4th, 2010 04:24 PM

Saudi Arabia

Jeff_Costa_Rica Jan 4th, 2010 04:27 PM

Before anyone asks, obviously, someone who served in the U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan isn't going to be the subject of suspicion.

If you have passport stamps from those countries, you'll get extra scrutiny, I gather.

Melnq8 Jan 4th, 2010 04:41 PM

Thanks Jeff. We've lived in Saudi, but none of the others (unless you include Libya a gazillion years ago).

Andrew Jan 4th, 2010 04:41 PM

Terrorists can without much extra effort defeat some of the most basic extra screenings TSA now seems to want to put in place. Stamp on your passport from a "red flag" country? Gee, how hard would it be to get a passport without one? How hard would it be to go to a third country like Germany, get fake documents showing you are a German citizen, then take a train to Amsterdam and fly to the US?

The reason terrorists haven't taken the trouble yet to do so: why SHOULD they have? So now the US is finally plugging some of the most basic security holes - the terrorists will simply have to work a bit harder.

I think we will soon have to give up a whole lot more privacy to be able to fly commercially. I don't mean extra intrusive body scans - I mean, having to be heavily screened even before you arrive at the airport, unless you want to spend extra hours getting the third degree. That is, when you show up at the airport, you'll have an ID plus perhaps have your fingerprints and eyes scanned to prove you are who you are. Immediately, TSA will know if you've had any speeding tickets, prior arrests, how long you've been at your current address, etc.. They will know if your ID has been reported stolen or if you have been reported as a missing person (so a terrorist who might have tried to steal your identity could be thwarted). They'll know by a quick check of your credit report, recent foreclosures, evictions, etc. whether you have having severe financial problems.

I'd say, for each person boarding a flight, the TSA will know the "risk factor" of every person on it. People with a high risk factor will have to endure a much higher threshold of screening - Israeli-style interviews by multiple people, body scans, etc. On the contrary, if you have voluntarily given up a lot of personal info to the TSA ahead of time, your airport experience should be relatively painless: the TSA will know you have been at your job for 5 years, that you own a home and have flown over 30 flights in the last few years for business - that is, an extremely low security risk, thus minimal screening.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:47 PM.