Airports security is an issue that has been discussed and debated a lot. To some it has become a phobia; to others it is considered a pure screening process, while to the few it is a pure money making business. To each their own valid arguments and refutable ones, to me it is simply about my flying experiences.
This experience has definitely changed since 9-11. The security check was an easier process and the lines were not as long. There was no need to take shoes off and I did not have to take my laptop out of its bag. Nevertheless, I did not mind the extensive security. I certainly preferred waiting a few additional minutes on the ground rather than being stuck in a plane with a weirdo who will try to blow us up in the sky due to a case of a lost love or some other stupid reason.
To be honest though, I did not like being singled out and searched in front of all other travelers as if I am the only potential terrorist. I remember being checked and searched twice while others went through a single process. I do understand that being from a Middle Eastern origin did not make the security agents feel any safer. I remember one time when an agent asked to check my passport for an International flight, the gentleman looked at me and told me “The computer picked you for a random security check” I smiled as it was obvious that the guy was just making it up. Unless his brain was wirelessly connected to a server, there was no way for him to get that instruction from a computer because there was none nearby.
Most agents show a level of professionalism when they perform their tasks while others definitely show hatred and racism. While traveling back to the US via one European Airport, the agent decided he can make a comment in his local language assuming that I do not understand it. He looked at another agent and said “search this veiled woman’s luggage” although the hand luggage has went through the machine he failed to point which luggage to search and they were many. The lady had many bags, carrying a child while the other was crying, being tired from a long flight. This lady was my wife.
I immediately commented in his language “why search her, because she is veiled? I surely did not hear you mention any reason other than that”. The guy’s face turned red, he was surprised, and he definitely did not expect me to know his language. His partner, an equal-opportunity hater, thought he could be smarter, and called the Airport police. He probably thought that it would scare me. The Police showed up seconds after, while we were told to stand to the side. When the police arrived and asked what was the problem I started talking loud so all passengers passing by could hear me “This is pure racism, he wanted to search her only because she is veiled, he assumed I don’t speak his language, go ahead pull the security cameras recording”
This did not make the security agent’s task any easier as people were listening. The police agent wanted to pull his bad cop act and asked me for my passport while informing me that “you need to calm down, you know I can prevent you from flying through any European Community airport” You should however see his face when he realized that the passports were American, not from a Middle eastern country as they all assumed.
The whole issue took a different approach, their whole attitude changed and they were all working on calming me down while the agent who caused the issue was pulled away. They barely looked at one bag and let us go. Is it fair? Definitely not. I was treated differently because my whole family are born and raised in the US and they hold US passports. If I was using my Lebanese passport I am rather sure that their attitude would not have turned friendly so quickly.
The behavior of the few does not mean that all security agents are the same; nevertheless I don’t call my fried potatoes French fries anymore!