The absurdities of air travel security become even more transparent from tomorrow when going abroad requires the assembly of all liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGS) in volumes of not more than 100ml in a one litre plastic bag if taken on board as hand luggage.
Consider the “urgency” with which Australia has complied with the rules, waiting until the very last possible day of the March deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) half a year ago.
If the risk had been remotely credible Australia would have acted immediately after the seriously exaggerated Blair scaremongering that followed the 9 August busting of an alleged UK terror scheme by plotters, including non-passport-holding juveniles in chat rooms, to simultaneously blow up trans Atlantic flights with toilet bombs.
These were to have been assembled in the dunnies by combining individually smuggled LAGS into something that would bring down a jet. Or in the case of bombs using moisturisers and deodorants, to make a stuffy cabin smell nicer.
Weak point number one. Can you imagine a dozen terrorists actually successfully getting into a jet’s toilet in sequence and in pairs in the time it takes to cross the Tasman, or finding a toilet that hasn’t been closed because it is blocked?
If Ralph Fiennes and Lisa Robertson can’t even get it together in a Qantas cubicle without being sprung, what chance have the jetsetting jihadists?
Weak point number two. There is no chemical analysis of the LAGS before they are tossed into a bin full of oversized tubes of toothpastes, armpit killers and assorted s-xual lubricants.
Not good if your terr’rist surrenders a deliberately large bottle of nitroglycerine.
(Memo security. Make all passengers enter a blast proof chamber and vibrate vigorously for 30 seconds before letting them approach the LAGS line. If a muffled bang is heard, call in the heavy duty cleaning squad.)
Weak point number three. Domestic passengers are exempt.
So how do you stop people with critical masses of LAGS boarding those flights where they won’t even have to go to the toilet in twos to set off a dishwashing fluid/skin peel/makeup remover bomb?
Weak point number four. Duty free is exempt if collected beyond the screening point.
An open invitation for infiltrated tax or duty exempt retailers to insinuate Bollinger bombs into the distribution chain.
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Australia is lucky in a way. It has a Minister for Transport in Mark Vaile who is shrewd enough not to overreact to the excesses of airport security inflicted on air travellers in the US and UK but astute enough to “tick all the boxes” required to comply with supporting an America driven security agenda that is deeply flawed.