September 11 not only resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, it changed air travel as we knew it.
Discussing whether TSA and other new regulations have made us safer is beyond the scope of a simple post. But, sometimes, it really does seem like we are still in over-reaction mode. This extra cockpit barrier debate, in my opinion, is one of those times.
One post-September 11 change was a locked door between the passenger cabin and the cockpit. Which makes some sense. It not only protects the pilots from potential terrorists, but it could also protect against, for example, drunk and disorderly passengers.
As anyone who’s flown and been towards the front of the plane also knows, flight attendants will put a beverage cart barring passengers from the galley and front area of the plane when one of the pilots uses the restroom.
Now, however, a new bill in Congress proposes to go a step further. It would require a second cockpit door on commercial aircraft. The idea is that when a pilot opens the cockpit door to use the restroom, the flight attendants standing guard with the cart in the way are not a sufficient deterrent and that the plane is then vulnerable.
The bill, like many in Congress, has been stuck in a subcommittee since the spring. But if it were to pass, the cost would be nontrivial to refit every single passenger plane in America. Plus, it’s not like there’s that much room up where the cockpit is to put the additional door in any case.
In addition, while Congress put $100 million towards airline costs for installing the first security door, this second door would be mandated but not funded. This means, no doubt, another security surcharge.
For that matter, if it’s all about a brief moment that pilots would be at risk, should we hire armed guards to escort them on the plane? Taking it not that much further, since September 11 apparently involved using flight attendants as hostages, will some politician demand protection for them beyond the air marshalls we already have deployed?
I’m for keeping the skies as safe as possible. But, we have enough “security theater” as it is with TSA. And, we should remember that September 11 also happened in part because passengers assumed, based on history, obeying the hijackers would be the safest response. That won’t happen again.
The airlines, perhaps not surprisingly, are against the idea of a mandated second door; federal air marshalls like it. But what do you think, Consumer Traveler readers? Would a second door be more security theater or would it be a worthwhile investment in public safety?