Flying is no fun

June 15th, 2003 – 2:35 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

Apparently the airlines are using outdated name-search software to match passenger names to the TSA’s no-fly lists, resulting in plenty of false positives.

In their efforts to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11 tragedy, the U.S. government and the airline industry are relying on software so outdated that it can’t distinguish between the last name of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and punk rocker Johnny Rotten Lydon.

As the war on terrorism spurs U.S. intelligence agencies to constantly expand aviation watch lists, many airline-reservation systems rely on name-searching software based on a 120-year-old indexing system that mistakes the similar spelling or sound of innocent passengers’ surnames for those of terrorists.

The result: Thousands of travelers have been flagged at airports for additional searches and police questioning — while critics say real terrorists could slip through undetected.

And that’s just one of the things that continues to make flying in the U.S. all sorts of fun. My friend Jennifer pointed me toward this rant [see the June 10, 2003 entry] by Alton Brown, star of Food TV’s Good Eats, in which he talks about having a frying pan confiscated at an airport.

This is supposed to make us safer from terrorists?

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