People believe that airports are as secure as they can get. However, according to recent investigations and scrutiny over the events of past years, this theory has been reconsidered. During the last ten years, there have been numerous cases in which people managed to board planes without being allowed to, drive though gates, climb fences or trick guards and slip past them. These are not movie scenarios but real-life situations detailed by a recent Associated Press Investigation. They have presented 268 cases of perimeter breaches in the last decade, more exactly, starting 2004. However, this number does not cover all the unpleasant or even dangerous situations so far, because there are airports where records are missing. The good news for passengers is that there were no instances of terrorist attacks or plots recorded in the data under investigation. A total of 31 airports were inspected and they have created the most complete report on security breaches in the last decade.
Among the most bizarre situations listed by the report, there was the case of a man who threw his bicycle over the fence surrounding the Chicago O’hare runway and cycled to a terminal gate to knock at it. Another situation places a mentally-ill person who managed to enter the perimeter of Los Angeles International Airport runway eight times (again by hopping the fence) and reached airplanes’ stairs two times in just a few months.
The Airport with the most breaches revealed by the AP Investigation was the one in San Francisco, with 37 cases. The second place is held by Philadelphia Airport, which registered 25 situations and the third one was LAX, with 24.
The investigation prompted officials to react immediately and urge airports to take more drastic safety measures to prevent even smaller incidents from happening. These would include more security, cameras that have sensors for body heat at night and better lighting. Nevertheless, some officials pinpointed the fact that some airports are understaffed and money invested in more technology will not necessarily solve the problem.
While it is true that since the major terrorist attack on 9/11, huge sums of money have been invested in security measures and prevention, smaller scale incidents have not ceased to happen and some officials stated that they cannot be prevented, no matter how safe the place is made. There are voices that say that something really bad needs to happen to grab the attention of airport representatives. Until then, they will probably continue to have a good laugh at all these ignorable events.
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