The TSA Imbroglio- Timely Advice From An Airline Legend

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Robert Crandall, the former CEO of American Airlines, is an aviation legend. He piloted American through the turbulent days of deregulation. His emphasis on cutting costs, expanding capacity to lower average costs, and establishing the hub-and-spoke system made American prosper in an environment that put other equally established airlines into bankruptcy court.

Former AA CEO Robert Crandall
Former AA CEO Robert Crandall

He still is an active industry observer, and never shy about expressing his opinions, has some very interesting points to make about the controversy raging over the TSA’s scanning and pat-down procedures. Here are two choice responses to questions about the controversy:

Q. What do you think of the new full-body, advanced imaging technology scanners and/or more thorough body pat-downs of air travelers who opt out of the scans?

A. I think they are economically foolish. Full body scan machines are very expensive. And the fact of the matter is that they are not very useful from the security point of view, either. We are devoting very large resources of money and people to passengers who obviously represent no threat — children, grandmothers, long-established travelers…
We need to spend a lot more time trying to identify those who have some relatively high probability of being a threat and use our secondary resources — our full-body scanners and/or pat-downs — on those who might represent a threat

He is equally unimpressed by those citizens who want to use the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year, as an opportunity to send a message to the TSA:

Q. There is a current Internet-based movement to opt out of the full-body scans in favor of (pat-down) searches as a protest during the busy Thanksgiving holidays. Do you have an opinion about it?

A. It’s an irresponsible thing to do. If the protest makes the security lines longer, you are creating a concentration of travelers who would be a very attractive target for a bomber.

As Mr. Crandall notes, there is a real threat out there. And however foolish and guilty of overreach the TSA might be at times, it does absolutely no good to roll the dice on a point-making exercise that could exacerbate those real security risks.

You can read the full interview at TC Palm