Airport Safety Jan. 30, 2011

Moscow - Not The First, Nor The Last

The recent terrorist suicide bombing in the Domodedovo International Airport outside of Moscow took 35 lives and injured over 170.  "Security experts" were quoted in the news saying that this shows that terrorists are now focusing on the airports instead of the airliners.

Terrorists targeting airports is old news.  There is a history of such attacks in the US and other Western countries. At LaGuardia in NYC in 1975, a bomb went off near the baggage carousel and killed 11, injuring 79.  The case remains open.  In 1983 at Orly in Paris, a bomb at the Turkish Airlines counter killed eight and injured  55.  In 1985, the Abu Nidal Organization conducted simultaneous attacks at the El Al counters in the Rome and Vienna airports, killing 19 and wounding 140.  In 2002, an Egyptian opened fire at the El Al counter in Los Angeles International, killing two and wounding four before being killed by a security officer.  In 2007, two Islamists attempted to drive a car bomb into the Glasgow, Scotland airport, causing damage to the airport, injuring five innocents, and succeeding in one of the attackers dying.

Terrorist attacks in unsecured areas of airlines are not new.  So what can you do to prepare.  Probably the best thing is to maintain situational awareness.  Know about the country you are flying to and about the airline carrier.  Do either represent frequent targets?  Do either represent sympathy to terrorism?  Keep aware of current events.  If traveling internationally, check the CIA World Factbook and the State Department Travel Warnings when planning your trip.

Don't get tunnel vision watching for your luggage on the carousel or looking for the money changing station.  Notice what is going on around you at all times.  Get a cart or a skycap to tote your luggage so that your hands and attention can be free.  Keep some basic essentials in a small carry on with you.  Consider travailing with a small flashlight and an emergency smoke hood (different subject, but if you traveling on a subway, you really ought to have this or something similar).

The odds are that your travel won't be a target of a terrorist attack at the airport.  But please just keep it in mind as history shows that it can happen in any airport at any time.

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