Do you hate our airport security system? Much of the world does, too, it seems, but they still come calling.
And lucky for us. According to the Commerce Department, the number of overseas visitors to the United States in 2010 finally beat pre-9/11 figures and these tourists kindly dropped some coin, too, spending more than $130 billion on hotels, restaurants and "I Love NY" T-shirts and such.
You'd think we could make it easy for them, but no. However you want to put it, airport security remains a pain, in this country and beyond.
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Not that airport security in other countries is run by the TSA, of course, but apparently we exert a fair amount of influence. A recent report in the UK's Guardian, for example, claims that a partial relaxation on the ban of bringing liquids through security was dropped thanks to pressure from the United States (and no, I doubt anyone's "thanking" us for that).
Then there's this quote from Giovanni Bisignani, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA): "Our passengers should be able to get from the curb to the gate with dignity, without stopping, without stripping ... and certainly without groping."
Yes, it would be nice to do without those "enhanced pat-downs" wouldn't it? For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, that's your alternative to the body scanner, should you refuse it for reasons of potential health risks or potential privacy risks (I've undergone both these security measures, and would happily take a pass on either one).
Hold on. Change is in the wind. I think.
In March, Homeland Security's Janet Napolitano said the United States is working at on "an airport checkpoint of tomorrow," while this month at the IATA's conference in Singapore, that Jetsonian theme was expanded at IATA executives unveiled a "Checkpoint of the Future." It involves "risk assessments," biometric identifiers in your passport and three separate passenger lanes.