Airports and airplanes around the world have been involved in many devastating and noteworthy events such as September 11 and ‘The Miracle on the Hudson.’ Probably recently added to this list is the fatal shooting at Los Angeles International Airport during which a lone gunman shot and killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and wounded at least four others before being wounded himself and apprehended by police.
“The day and weekend following the shooting, our Tampa International Airport Police beefed up their presence in the terminals and at the security checkpoints,” said Emily Nipps, the Communications Manager at Tampa International Airport, “We also increased the presence of Behavioral Detection Officers, who are agents that keep an eye out for people who are behaving in an unusual way.”
Every time something like the LAX shooting or a plane crash takes place, the safety of airports and airplanes have been under question. This question pops up more often than any other question about airports. Are airports and, by extension, airplanes safe? Do the patrons and passengers feel safe?
The answer to this first question is, yes, airplanes and airports are safe.
“We try to make passengers aware of our police officers’ presence,” said Nipps, “and we have courtesy phones installed throughout the airport for people to use in case of an emergency.”
Airports across the nation and the world broadcast PA messages to remind passengers and patrons that they should report any suspicious activity or abandoned luggage.Many airports now have walk-in X-ray machines combined with metal detectors that can see vague images of the human body and highlights the unnatural things on one’s person like pocket knives, guns, and bombs. Beyond these checkpoints are random pat-downs meant to find any objects of interest spotted on the machine’s display or objects the machine might have missed. These forms of threat detection have seen their fair share of controversy upon their installation in airports with people saying they are too invasive and the wrong people are given pat-downs.
Airplanes’ safety has also improved over the years. The pilot, copilot, and flight attendants are all trained professionals in their vocations. The exits and emergency exits are equipped with safety chutes to get passengers off the plane in the unlikely event of a crash. There are also oxygen masks in the ceiling and the seat cushions double as a flotation device. Some planes also have life-vests secured under the chairs.
“We have not heard any feedback from passengers or visitors that indicates they do not feel safe at Tampa International Airport,” said Nipps.
“I feel safe at airports,” said Ravin Forde, senior, “I don’t feel violated with the X-rays and the pat-downs. I know it is for safety. It is reassuring to know that airports and airplanes have so many safety mechanisms set up.”
“Airports are safe,” said Lauren Horne, senior, “the X-rays and pat-downs don’t worry me; I have nothing to hide. I think the LAX shooting was just a freak thing and not the norm.”
According to an NBC affiliate in Los Angeles, there have only been eight major airport shootings since September 11, 2001.
“It’s possible an event similar to what happened at LAX could happen anywhere,” said Nipps, “It serves as a reminder to all airports and people who use them that violent acts can occur randomly, and everyone should be vigilant of their surroundings, no matter where they are.”