Friday, 11 August 2006

It's going to be a long, dry flight

It wasn't too long ago that airlines stopped serving up "free" drinks and food on most flights in response to the overwhelming demand for lower air fares. Travellers were encouraged to pack their own lunches and BYOB (bring your own bottle). Well, no more. Not since Scotland Yard busted a terrorist cell that intended to blow up planes over the Atlantic using ingredients smuggled onto the planes in beverage bottles.

Police believe that the terrorists planned to evade security measures by disguising explosive materials as mineral water, fizzy drinks and sugar.

Of course, the only response to this is banning all carry-on drinks on planes, right?

Well, the terrorists were going to detonate their ingredients with camera flashes, and nobody is banning those. For several years now, we've had to be prepared to prove to security personnel that our electronic devices worked as advertised, even taking a picture if necessary, to demonstrate that there were no plastic explosives stuffed in the battery compartment. So why not apply the same procedure to drinks? Everybody with carry-on drinks should be required to take a good, long swig under the watchful eyes of security screeners. Wannabe terrorists would think twice about carrying on nitroglycerin and peroxide and the rest of us could slake our thirst in peace.

The possible flaw in my reasoning is that nitroglycerin and peroxide might not actually taste that bad. For some strange reason, I've never tried to find out. Maybe they aren't that foul and a wannabe martyr could take a sip with a straight face. I presume that suicide bombers would hardly be concerned about long-term health implications.

Failing the drink-it-yourself test, airlines would do well to reinstate the drinks included policy. Somehow, paying three dollars more for your ticket is easier to stomach than shelling out the same three dollars for a bottle of water.

Note to airline and security executives: my consultancy fees are very reasonable. Have your people contact mine.


Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Previous post on the topic of Terrorism

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Patrick Martin said...

I'm too tired to look for the article at the moment, but I'm pretty sure I read that the terrorists had made some drink bottles with a false bottom of some sort, such that the top portion had actual drink, but the lower portion had the explosive component. The tasting requirement may not be sufficient to catch all of this type of attack.

Janet said...

Pat, I read something similar a few hours after posting this. Nonetheless, I shall hold you personally responsible for the loss of those lucrative consultancy contracts I was aiming for.

On the evening news, some expert or another was speculating about the possible return of the sense of luxury on flights, with meals and drinks being served, as something of a counterbalance to the almost prison-like experience that flying is becoming. So at least I got that part right. The airlines are going to have to do something to make the experience more pleasant.


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