Navigate / search

Bonafide Security or Potemkin Village? You Decide.

Flying from Canada? Be prepared to spend a ridiculous amount of time going through security. After the underwear bomber on Christmas Day, travelers are paying the price for upgraded security…with their precious time. No doubt that safety is paramount, but are we being fooled into a greater sense of security by a Potemkin village of pat downs, ID checks and inane questions?

My most recent Toronto airport security experience, which culminated with a line of questioning about the book I was carrying on board, leads me to believe that this so-called security is just all for show. Hoping to get some clarification on the new procedures, I went directly to the source, (kindly) asking the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority what the point is behind the theatrics.

They wrote me back with this response: You are asking to comment on our operating procedures, which is something that, for security purposes, we do not discuss publicly. So, we’re left to pontificate the actions of airport security as a community of travelers. (I think that’s more fun anyway.)

You tell me: are the scenarios that I experienced bonafide security measures that ensure the safety of travelers? Or are they just a bunch of baloney to offer travelers a greater sense of security? I welcome any and all of your comments.

Bonafide or Baloney? Before going through the detectors at the checkpoint, each passenger had to wait until security had completely checked the traveler in front of them and had gathered their items from the conveyer belt. This seemed to take a good three or four minutes per person.

Bonafide or Baloney? They asked me to put my hands inside the top of my pants and slide my hands around my waist before testing my finger tips for (I assume) explosives. Why can’t they just take a sample from my shirt or arm? Does it really do any good to test just one area of the body anyway?

Bonafide or Baloney? I was carrying the book Love in the Time of Cholera. This led to a series of questions about the disease, including what I know about cholera and why I am reading the book. I bet the Nobel Prize winning author never thought the title of this book would set off security alarms. Do people even get cholera anymore?!

Bonafide or Baloney? They asked me to turn on my laptop and wait until it booted up before putting it back in my bag. This left me wishing I had one of those new Toshiba models that wake up really fast.

Bonafide or Baloney? I had to show my boarding pass to six or seven different people before getting to my gate. Must I remind people that all attempted attacks have been made by people who did indeed have boarding passes?

Am I alone in thinking that these security measures are just a bunch of baloney? A Potemkin village intended to lull travelers into a greater (but possibly false) sense of security? Or do these enhanced security measures give you solace as a traveler? Discuss.


My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!



Hooey, hooey, and more hooey, I think.

And I’m sorry. Not knowing that LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA is a classic is just…classic.

What’s next? If you read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD you won’t be allowed to adopt a pet from the animal shelter?!

Bev F

When you fly from Canada into the US you enter into the US security system. It is much different than flying from Canada to anywhere else. We fly from Canada all over the world on a frequent basis and the security measures only get so over the top when flying into the US. That having been said, we have not flown since Christmas Day. Come Saturday we may have a different story to tell.

Atlanta Area Homes

I agree that some of the measures are uncalled for, but most are necessary. I would rather spend an extra 5 minutes going through security than get blow out of the sky by some nut case!


I’m probably going to end up buniyg this alarm package but you really need to do some research on sound decibel ratings. To anyone that knows anything about sound, they will laugh at a 160 db siren rating. I engineer 80,000 watt concert systems that peak at 143-145db. 150db is a jet engine at take off. AT the engine, not a 1000 feet away. When you say almost 300db need to do more research. Every time you double the speakers you gain 3db of output. You don’t add the ratings together.

Leave a comment


email* (not published)