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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
No passport, no ticket - no problem
A greeting sign at Boston's Logan International Airport
Boston's airport is a little too friendly
By the BBC's Jonathan Dyer

A BBC journalist says he has often enjoyed a clear run from the taxi door to the plane door at Boston's Logan International Airport - the departure point for two of the hijacked planes.

I thrust a $20 bill into the taxi driver's hand, leapt out of the cab, across the pavement, through the sliding doors, about a dozen steps forward, then through the metal detector arch as the security officer operating it glanced away to talk to a colleague.

Airport baggage X-ray machine
Officials don't always watch the X-ray machine
Another minute, and I was at the door of the aeroplane I would later board. No-one had stopped to ask me for a passport, or any other identification, or even a ticket.

That experience, which happened to me one day last year, is fairly typical.

I fly in or out of Boston's Logan airport about a dozen times a year, usually using the American Airlines terminal at the heart of the investigation currently under way in Boston.

To anyone used to travelling in Europe, airport security in Boston is remarkably low key.

Most alarming of all was when my only piece of hand luggage was a bullet-proof vest... the security agents just waved me through

People can deposit their bags with airline staff at the kerb side as they get out of their taxi, then be accompanied by friends or family not even flying all the way to the plane door.

The main departure area at Boston's American Airlines terminal has two carry-on baggage X-ray machines and two metal detectors.

They stand very close together and I can remember several occasions when security staff there appeared to have failed to notice me as I strolled on through, though admittedly I have never "bleeped".

Passenger at Logan International Airport
This man had been due to board one of the fated planes
Personally, most alarming of all, was the occasion when my only piece of hand luggage was a bullet-proof vest (being carried back to London for a colleague covering a war zone).

I had wondered if the security agents would believe or understand my reason for taking it on board an aeroplane but instead, the security agents just waved me through.

I still wonder what it must have looked like on the X-ray machine.

Fast food wages

Airport security for both American Airlines and United Airlines is provided not by the police or state security officers but by a private security company based in Texas.

It has been reported that their employees could probably earn a similar wage if they worked at a fast food outlet.

Two years ago the authority responsible for Boston's Logan airport and the major airlines were fined a total of $178,000 for at least 136 security violations, which included screeners hired by the airlines failing to spot test items such as pipe-bombs and guns.

Airport officials in Boston say that their security was no worse than at any other airport in the US.

That is all about to change.

Aviation journalist Annie Redmile
"Nothing compared with checking through Heathrow"
See also:

11 Sep 01 | Americas
US airport security under fire
13 Sep 01 | Business
US allows limited air service
12 Sep 01 | Americas
Frozen with fear
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