In July of 2006, I experienced an airport security nightmare. Even after this odd occurrence was reported to the Office of Homeland Security, the cloud of this experience still looms. My eyes were opened to a potential security risk in most airports that could make it easy for terrorists to smuggle dangerous objects onto an airplane. To this day, the Office of Homeland Security has not closed this potential airline security gap.
After four years, I have come to the realization that the submission of this article might be the only way to get this issue noticed. There is a potential airline security gap that I have spoken about for years that has not been taken care of.
My wife and I had decided to travel to San Diego to visit family that I have there, and then spend four days in Las Vegas with a friend. We found that the least expensive way to book this trip was to buy round trip tickets from Detroit (our native area) to Las Vegas, and round trip tickets from Las Vegas to San Diego.
Detroit Metro International Airport outside of Detroit
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, NV
McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, CA
My Extenuating Circumstance
Two weeks before my trip, I broke my wrist in two places. Due to the positioning of the breaks, I was not able to be issued a traditional cast. I was given a brace similar to those worn by people with carpal tunnel syndrome. It had two removable steel plates that were eight inches in length, an inch and a half wide, and a third of an inch thick.
How Security Handled My Case
I went through airport security check points four times during my trip. I was asked to remove my brace at Detroit Metro airport, and it was inspected by a security officer. He did not notice the fact that the plates were removable. He simply put it through the metal detector. He did not notice anything out of the ordinary.
Through all three of my other airport security checks, I was never required to remove the brace. It was never inspected. While I was checked to see if I held any other metal, the brace itself was only checked in Detroit. It was not inspected in California, and not inspected in either of my checks in Nevada.
The Potential Security Gap
By not checking my brace, airport security set up for a potential security gap that I have tried to notify the Office of Homeland Security about on multiple occasions. At any time, I could have taken out the plates from my brace and filed them to a razor sharp point. With the size of the plates, I could have smuggled two very long knives onto four airplane.
The argument could not be used that the ability to remove the plates from the brace was hidden from view. There were clearly slots on the brace that were lined with leather and embossed with the wording, “Do not remove plates while on.”
Also, with the fact that the brace was not checked, I could have used the brace to smuggle some kind of chemical onto the airplanes that I flew on. There were areas in the brace that allowed for a pocket between my hand and wrist, and the inside of the brace. These pockets could have been used to store any small object.
How it is Still a Potential Airline Security Gap
I know that this is still a potential airline security gap because of the fact that I know other people that have traveled since with similar kinds of braces. I have spoken to seven people that have flown since my flights in 2006 that wear the same kind of brace that I had to help their carpal tunnel syndrome.
Out of a combined 42 flights, these passengers only had to remove their braces 18 times. Out of those 18 times, only three times were the braces inspected. In the cases of these braces, all of them had the same kind of removable plates like my brace had.
As I conclude this article, I have the hope that this issue gains the attention that it needs. For four years, I have wondered if the eyes of terrorists have seen what I have seen in regards to this type of wrist brace. I have spent a lot of time wondering if this potential airline security gap will be fixed before we have a potentially deadly incident.