Success in this endeavor is defined by the extent to which aviation security personnel remain one step ahead of terrorists. When the "Shoe Bomber," Richard Reed, was able to board a transatlantic commercial airliner following 9/11, it marked a monumental failure of aviation security. Since then the sight of airline passengers in security checkpoints removing their footwear has become commonplace. Obviously, adjusting security to account for methods of terror that have already been attempted is essential. However, the real success of security happens when those threats are predicted and guarded against before anyone actually carries them out.
Among all such threats that have been contemplated, there is one that stands out as a glaring risk about which shockingly little has been done. That is the potential for checked luggage and cargo loaded into the hold of an airplane to be rigged with explosives. To date, no airline or airport routinely screens checked bags and cargo for explosives. Some small scale pilot projects are in the works to test methods of doing this. Nevertheless, it is quite surprising that five years after 9/11, a terrorist could go to an airport and check through a bomb-laden suitcase that very likely would make it aboard a commercial airliner. ...
ee's antitrust subcommittee, faulted airlines for not ensuring that a person who checks luggage actually gets on the flight, already the practice in Europe. At the same time, he noted, checked bags are not routinely screened for explosives." The AP went on to quote Senator Kohl stating, "On a given day, a group of saboteurs could load up 12 different airplanes across the country with explosives, go home, and we would have a disaster."
The airline industry responded that it would be impossible to match luggage to passengers given the structure of the U.S. air travel system; and even if it were possible, such an undertaking would not thwart a terrorist who was willing to die by boarding the flight on which his/her checked bags contained a bomb (Associated Press, 2001). Donald Carty, President and CEO of American Airlines, asserted that a bag to passenger matching system would ultimately lead to reduced flights and layoffs.
Senator Kohl described a two-pronged problem with aviation security. The first, and arguably the key, issue is that checked luggage makes its way on board commercial airliners without being screened for explosives or other potential threats. Secondarily, the failure to ensure that those who check luggage actually board their flight makes it possible for someone to place a bomb aboard a flight with no risk to him/herself. Arguably, if the former problem were adequately addressed, then the latter one would not be nearly as great a concern.
Many would consider it shocking that even before 9/11 checked luggage was not screened. The procedure of going through airport security checkpoints, scanning carry-on items and going through metal detectors fostered a false sense of security in many people. Surely, many would think, if such precautions were taken with