The news here is filled with emerging details of the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253. It’s unsettling to watch: I’ve taken that flight lots of times, working my way from Amsterdam towards Minneapolis or Seattle. It sounds like it all happened extremely quickly; I always wonder how fast or how correctly I would react in that sort of situation. Hopefully it never comes to a test.
It’s hard for me to imagine how the bomber got through security at Schiphol. The airport has security screenings at each gate, so even transfer passengers would have gone through an interview, a metal detector, and a baggage screening before boarding. Pat-downs aren’t unusual, and the news reports from Amsterdam say that all security procedures were followed.
I’m sure that this incident is going to make a mess of flying for months to come. Security will ratchet up, screenings will slow down, there will be new carry-on restrictions. I’ve already received notice from Air Canada to arrive an hour earlier and to limit myself to only one carry-on bag (excess checked baggage fees arte being waived). Whole-body scanner / sniffers are a likely part of the future.
I also remember the mix of people typically on that flight, a plane often filled with tall, fit Dutch students and businessmen. I have little doubt that at least a dozen people would have been more than a match for the bomber. The Sunday morning interview programs are featuring interviews with Jasper Schuringa, the young film director who apparently leaped all the way across the cabin (20J to 19A) as the incident began. His description of putting a hammerlock on the bomber sounds like a case example of Dutch directness.