Melissa’s Musings: We need airport security

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 30, 2002


Last March I flew from bustling Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, to the relatively quiet Louis Armstrong International. It was the first time since Sept. 11 that my traveling companion and I had entered the airport as passengers, weighed down by the two bags we tried to squeeze all our belongings into. Yes, we over packed, as college girls are known to do, but we were careful to avoid anything pointy, metal or in anyway threatening. No fingernail files or nail clippers. Nothing to threaten airport security. We knew security would be tight and we expected a hassle.

In Atlanta, we were allowed to carry our bags as carry-on, despite their bulk. We went through the metal detectors without incident and, with the exception of having my shoes removed and checked, we boarded our plane with little problem. We thought the worst was over.

The shops, halls and terminals of Hartsfield see far more foot-traffic during the day then Louis Armstrong. If it was that easy to get on at Hartsfield, then surely the Louisiana airport would be no problem when we boarded the following week to return to the University of Georgia. We were wrong.

Security at Louis Armstrong made us check our bags. Then the bags were mechanically scanned twice before being rummaged through by uniformed security personnel. My friend received the ultimate honor, or horror as some see it, of receiving a thorough search with what we call “the uncomfortable magic hand-wand.” By the time we reached the terminal, we were tired, frustrated and, needless to say, a little angry.

Now, we look back on our trip and laugh. The hassle at the airport was just one of a number of vacation hijinks we like to tell our friends about.

Thanks to airport security, we traveled safely round-trip, the only real disturbance on the plane – a little turbulence.

A recent CNN poll recently found that the majority of Americans surveyed feel the same. Of those surveyed, more than 80 percent agreed that now is not time to removed the added security from the airports. Is additional security a hassle? Sure. Is it still necessary? Absolutely.

With the one year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack on America just weeks away, now, more than any other, is the time to post additional security at U.S. airports. If the possibility of militant groups or “copycat” terrorists using our airports against us on this, our tragic anniversary, is not enough to warrant additional security, then the emotional and economic security of the country should be.

On Sep. 11, 2001 we were at our most vulnerable. This Sept. 11 we are likely to feel that way again. Security guards and security checks are going to be a comfort to travelers during September. Will they be a hassle? Not to those boarding a flight on Sept. 11.

In addition to threats on our lives and the lives of our families, we also suffered economically as a result of the attacks. It hurt our travel industry. It hurt businesses that rely on planes to transport businessmen and women throughout the nation and the world. It hurt the airline industry, an industry still struggling to recover. Are we going to let it do the same thing again this fall? Security will not persuade everyone to fly, but it may help convince travelers that want to fly that it is safe to do so.

It would be too premature to remove security from our nation’s airports now, not when we need them more than ever. It is not just a matter of security anymore.

MELISSA PEACOCK is a staff reporter for L’Observateur. She may be contacted at (504) 652-9545.