Handling priorities in a bomb threat situation

BETTER the hassle and feel safe than the convenience and risk security. So it is not surprising, even expected, that airlines and airports once again rally to implementing additional security measures following the Paris attacks last month. Never mind about some cynics admonishing the world not to over-react or respond with what they have referred to as knee-jerk reaction. You can’t be too careful about security especially in the wake of yet another senseless debacle.

So it is that passengers arriving from Paris get screened more thoroughly than normal even as according to many passengers they are already subject to stringent checks in Paris, apparently held back for as long as four hours. A friend told me that even arriving from Kuching recently, the passengers were subject to similar checks. But they weren’t exactly complaining about another two hours at Changi.

Photo: Jeanne Ong/TWITTER

Photo: Jeanne Ong/TWITTER

On Nov 23, The Straits Times reported that Singapore Airliens (SIA) flight SQ001 had received a bomb threat (“Bomb threat causes 2-hour wait to leave SIA plane at Changi Airport”). As reported, “the aircraft was moved to a relatively secluded part of the airport, and that passengers were not allowed to disembark until around 2om.”

It is not easy to decide on the best course of action to take under the circumstances, and the authorities had to act fast and move discreetly such that they do not cause any unnecessary alarm and panic among the passengers. But it does lead one to wonder if the standard procedure should not be to evacuate passengers and crew from the plane and isolate them in a holding room, where they may be frisked and questioned as necessary. Isn’t the safety of passengers and crew the top priority? Heaven forbid that something untoward should happen with all the passengers and crew still on board!

In the case of SQ001, the aircraft was moved to a relatively secluded part of the airport, and passengers were not told about the threat but that there was an issue at the boarding gate. Baggage was subject to additional security screening, the first bags arriving on the claim belt more than three hours after the plane had landed. But that was to be expected. Noting that security procedures may contain sensitive information and access to them may be limited for obvious reasons, travellers will have to rest assured that the authorities to the best of their knowledge understand their priorities.

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About Dingzi
Writer by passion, with professional expertise in aviation, customer service and creative writing. Aviation veteran, author, editor and management consultant. Besides commentary on business issues and life-interest topics, travel stories and book reviews, genres include fiction, poetry and plays. Nature lover who abhors cruelty of any form to animals, and a tireless traveler. Above all, a dreamer.

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