Psychology of Airline Passenger Safety

I am sure that, like me, most Americans had no qualms about boarding any airliner and traveling with confidence to any destination pre 9/11 with the then security measures in place. I am sure there were those of us who were afraid of flying, but the thought of a hijacking or a bomb on our plane, we gave it no thought. Although there were still bombings and hijackings throughout the world, we as Americans “felt” safe.

On September 11, 2001 the comfortable and confident feeling we enjoyed as Americans changed forever. Not only for us but the world as a whole changed. After the dastardly attack on the United States of America we learned that our current security measures were, to say the least, vague at best. The security personnel at the airport were not trained properly due to, in my opinion, our laxidasical view of security.

After the attacks of 9/11 there were four particular areas of security that needed to be addressed immediately. (Jeffrey Price M.A., 2004,2008)
1. What should be done with airport screeners?
2. Should aviation security be kept in the hands of the FAA?
3. If a new transportation security agency were to be created, where to place it in the governmental structure?
4. What changes should be made to the system to make Americans feel safe enough to get back on an airplane?

Of the aforementioned we will address the last of these concerns; what changes should be made to the system to make Americans feels safe enough to get back on an airplane? The Aviation and Transportation Security act (ATSA) was enacted on November 19, 2001. This act brought, among other things, thousands of Federal Air Marshall’s to the sky, reinforced cockpit doors, Significant changes to the screening process and initiated a “trusted traveler program” (now known as Registered Traveler) this allowed an individual to pay a fee and then would be allowed to enter an specific expedited screening line. There was a mandate put into place that by December 31, 2002, one hundred percent of all bags must be screened. All personnel and goods that entered the secured areas of the airport must be screened. Airline and airport employees that had access to the Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) must all have criminal history records check. This also included foreign air carrier personnel. There are numerous other measures that have been put in place in the hopes of thwarting off another attack and to make us, as passengers, feel safe. Although there have been other attacks on the airlines as a whole since 9/11, there have been no successful attacks on US soil. With that being said, we as Americans are starting to get that “comfortable” feeling again. This is obvious in an article that states in August of 2005 the Transportation Security administration met to discuss the airline security passenger screening process to make it more “passenger friendly” (i.e. Quicker). Some of the proposed changes were to lift the ban on razor blades, small knives, scissors, ice picks, and bows and arrows. Also by reducing the number of pat downs, not screening judges and the like the process will be less arduous. As the author notes, isn’t that exactly what we were doing prior to 9/11? (Mallory, 2006) How soon we forget and how fast we become complacent.

Recently I ventured to my local international airport with a clipboard and some pencils to interview some passengers before their flight. I had only five short questions to ask:

1. Since 9/11 have you flown on an airplane? If no Why?
2. Do you think our government has done everything possible to make us safe?
3. Do you think the passenger screening process is better since 9/11?
4. From what you have learned or heard is the baggage and cargo screening better since 9/11?
5. Do you feel safe in the airport and in the airplane flying right now?

I approached fifty individuals in the main terminal building, of those fifty not one chose to speak with me. Turning their heads or acting as if I was not there. Security even asked me what I was doing and before explaining to them my research project I felt as if I were doing something wrong.

It is my conclusion that if whatever the situation is does not affect the individual personally they just do not care. Everyone seems to be too busy or to self centered to care about a problem as a whole. Today while writing this essay, I was able to corner my neighbor and asked him about airport and airline security. His response was exactly as I thought it would be. He stated that he believes there is much more to be done with security. When I inquired what needs to be done he could not put his finger on any one thing. His response again was “I just know more could be done but no one wants to do anything” This just reinforces my conclusion. He had not flown since 9/11 and has not researched anything that has been done to improve security except for what the media tries to make us believe. It was not affecting him so why should he waste his time to find out what is really happening.

I wish everyone would be able to or want to take some of the courses I have had the privilege of being a part of. Learning the past, present and some of the future security related situations have opened my eyes. I know what is being done to protect us. Is there one direction that will guarantee our safety? Is there only one security program out there that will? No, there are no guarantees for airline security but with the layered security system currently in place I “feel” much better about utilizing air transportation.

October 26th, 2008
Shawn S. Twogood I
AES 3850
Psychology of Airline Passenger Safety

Shawn S. Twogood

PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) – The last glimpse of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was captured by Malaysian passenger Md Ali Md Salim moments before departure. The 14-second video, which was uploaded on his Instagram account, showed other passengers stowing their luggage in the overhead compartment. In the caption of the Instagram video, the 30-year-old seemed to have expressed his jitters flying home.

“Bismillah… #hatiadasikitgentar (In the name of God… feeling a little bit nervous)”, read the caption.

The video has now made its rounds on YouTube and social networking site, Facebook.

An announcement, believed to be the voice of the pilot, could be heard in the background. “At the moment, we are on the final stages of boarding and cargo loading. Once again, please ensure all your phones are off for the flight to…” said the pilot, before the video ended.

Mr Md Ali, a psychology PhD student at Erasmus University Rotterdam, was reported to be heading home to celebrate the upcoming Hari Raya in Muar, Johor.

Flight MH17 disappeared from radar screens in eastern Ukraine at around 2.15am GMT, hours after the Boeing 777, bound for Kuala Lumpur, had taken off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

It is believed to have been accidentally shot down 50km from the Ukraine-Russia border.

Malaysia Airlines, in a statement, confirmed that there were a total of 298 passengers including 15 crew members on board.

Among them were 43 Malaysians, including the crew members, and two infants.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Shocked relatives, friends turn to social media

PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) – Shocked relatives and friends of those on board MH17 have taken to social media in an attempt to find out what has become of their loved ones.

From postings made on Facebook profile of a self-employed Dutch national, he and his partner were among those on board the aircraft, which is said to have been shot down in Ukrainian airspace en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

Mr Cor Pan and his partner Neeltje Tol, whose Facebook profiles suggest they own a flower business, were among those on board after the former posted a picture of the flight on his page prior to take off.

He even joked in Dutch “if it (plane) goes missing, this is what it looks like”, referring to a picture of the plane taken from the departure hall.

Upon news of the crash late last night, his friends and relatives began posting comments on the photo indicating that he and Tol were on the flight.

“Turns out to be our cousin Cor was on this plane! Unreal truth… very bizarre,” said Facebook user Jan Veerman.

Another cousin Jan Painter said: “Rest in peace cousin…”

“Terrible and unfair. Rest in peace Cor and Neeltje,” commented Renate Silven.

“I can not believe this … devastated. Rest in peace,” said another friend Jan Keizer Jr.

Malaysia Airlines stewardess Angeline Premila is also among those believed to have been on the Boeing 777.

The Klang-born woman, who appears to be in her mid-20s, had friends writing well wishes and prayers on her Facebook wall, for her safe return.

Her colleagues, who had seen the crew manifest, had written asking her to get in touch as soon as she is safe.

Colin Suppiah wrote “please be okay… please,” while Shark Rs, who appears to be a colleague of Angeline’s, wrote “Angieee … pleaseee! I know you are on board that plane … saw the list already, plss..plss..plsss..respond to me once u safe wherever you are.”

Ilham Iskandar wrote: “Hope you are fine Angeline Premila! Pls come back home safely” while AR Ganesh Durai wrote: “Hope you are not on the plane dear.”

Countless comments of similar nature flooded her wall and the Facebook timelines of other crew and passengers who were believed to have been on MH17.

Twitter user Ain Senrose said she did not know how to break the news to her mother that her aunt, chief stewardess Dora Shahila Kassim, was on MH17.

“I am heartbroken to hear that my aunt, who is my mother’s younger sister, was there (on the flight), and my mother still does not know about this.

“Pray for all the passengers of MH17 and my aunt. Dora Shahila Binti Kassim,” she tweeted.

A check on Ms Dora’s Facebook account showed that the single mother’s last few profile picture changes were in black, in prayer for those on board MH370.

Many of her friends commented on these photos, saying that they were glad she had not been on MH370 and that she was safe.

Ms Dora is believed to be among the 15 crew members on MH17.

On her Facebook profile, Ms Dora stated that she was a divorcee.

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