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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Do you feel safe to travel?
Mass tourism, and air travel, although resilient to major world events in the past, is facing a huge challenge now, as people react to last week's terrorist attacks on America.
Financial analysts predict that the events of 11 September will have devastating economic consequences for the tourist industry.
Many people have cancelled holidays and are refusing to fly because of last weeks events. Airlines have laid of workers as the number of people taking flights has dropped.
Have you been affected? Do you feel safe to travel at the moment.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
We are planning to fly to the UK next March 2002. Our plans have not changed. We are travelling with a large group of 30 people. We are planning a 18 day tour of your lovely country. Really looking forward to it, no fears...only joy and happiness
Aircrafts should be modified such that there is absolutely no access between the passenger section and the cockpit. Moreover, there should not be any means of communication between these two sections. All communications to and from the cockpit should be redirected via ground control. This will absolutely discourage any hijackers.
I'll be travelling by air six times in the next three months and feel no worries about doing so (even once on a US based airline). Two reasons: first, the terrorists are imaginative and clever - are they really likely to try the same thing twice when everyone is looking out for them and security is so tight? Second, even with the horrible death toll in the US attacks, the chances of dying in an airplane crash (accidental or terrorist controlled) are incredibly tiny compared with the risk of being killed crossing the road!
Safety is relative. Air travel is probably the safest method of travel - and it is about to get safer. Terrorism is a disease that exists in the world and from time to time strikes in the most unexpected places - but we have an obligation not to live in fear and therefore to continue with our lives positively. The more we compromise, the greater the ground they gain.
Diana Stevens, Scotland
I have a much-anticipated trip planned to the Netherlands and France early in October and am considering cancelling. My concern is something happening over the week I'm overseas that makes it hard or risky to get home. Also, there is the fear - irrational, I know, I know - of flying, of going through the same horrifying terror of those hijack victims. They haven't won, but they've made a point we won't soon forget.
I travel by air internationally two or three times a month and I will continue to do so. We cannot let the fear of terror in the sky or on the ground take over our normal everyday life. In truth I am more concerned about the maintainability of the aircraft I travel on (particularly with the proposed cutbacks)and the lack of commonsense of my fellow passengers than the threat of terrorism.
I have noticed a clear increase in security at airports but sadly no increase in the awareness of my fellow passengers. Yesterday I flew from Frankfurt to Athens and people are still leaving baggage unattended, trying to take inappropriate items as hand luggage (nail files, knifes, scissors, laser pointing devices etc). We are all demanding that airport and aircrew are increasingly vigilant but by the same token we should demand the same of ourselves and our fellow passengers.
As a former Air Hostess, I would have to say that I have always enjoyed flying and will continue to do so. However, I know that the public as a whole, has had their confidence shattered at least for the present, but what kind of a life will we have if we live in fear? As an American living in London, I make trips back to the US as I have family and friends there. Air travel has made our world seem a smaller place since nowhere on this globe is not within our limits. It is a lifestyle that we have all grown accustomed to and one that may not be so easy to give up for the long term.
At a time like this when we all need each other for support, maybe we could go back to those old fashioned values that we can always count on in turbulent times and they will never fail. Christian values will never go out of style and prayer will soothe and give us confidence to once again return to the skies and enjoy our beautiful world.
JJ, London, UK
I think it will be difficult for hijackers to pull off this kind of operation again. Tightened security at airports as well as heightened passenger vigilance will make it difficult for terrorists to seize control of a plane again. I think they will use different means of inflicting their hate if and when they next strike.
I have to travel between New York and Boston every few weeks and had started to take the train just before last week's events. Air travellers here have become accustomed to dismal service and laughable security. As many are forced to try alternative means, it will be a wonder if many return to flying again for shorter distances. That said, I may feel safer in the train or in my car but I am probably far more likely to be killed in the latter than on a plane.
Malcolm Butler, UK
Regardless of the attacks of last week, the fact remains that flying is still the safest way to travel. Also, the attacks illustrate to me that staying at home can be just as dangerous as travelling overseas.
I agree with Nick Drury. Aircraft security is currently at an all time high. Given that airline passengers are being relieved of so much hardware that they would have trouble pricking their own finger in-flight, I feel perfectly comfortable about travelling by air. The only issue worth worrying about is the possibility of potentially "rogue" commercial pilots who might already have infiltrated the passenger airline system and be working as bona-fide pilots!
Due to heightened awareness of the risks of flying and more stringent security measures to prevent terrorist attacks, I feel it is even safer to fly now than before. Whether it is safer to be in one country rather than another is, however, a different question and a matter of judgement.
Paul Burgess, Scotland
If we allow ourselves to be too scared to get on a plane we hand victory on a plate to the scum responsible for the mass murder of over five thousand innocent people. I just purchased tickets for two trips I have to make this autumn. I may be a little more apprehensive about flying than I used to be, but I WILL be going. It would be an insult to the brave people of New York and Washington and to all the victims and their families to do otherwise.
My husband and I are due to go to New York on 1st October for a week to stay with friends (arranged months ago). We are still going to support our friends and to pay our respects to those who lost their lives. If we don't go, we feel the terrorists will have won. I will be apprehensive about flying but feel that it will be safer now than it was before.
I was due to travel to New York next week, but due to the horrific events have changed the trip to the West Coast. However, after speaking to a friend living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who told me that people are walking around terrified, buying gas masks and signing up to the army, I'm considering cancelling the trip altogether. Its not flying that I'm fearful of, it's being away from home in the event of full-scale war.
I'm flying to the Middle East for my wedding in 3 weeks time. Family members have cancelled their flights and I'm nervous and scared, but still plan on making the trip. Both my location and the airspace I'm travelling over is worrying for me. But if I have to wait, how long do I wait for? Bush has called it Operation Infinite Justice. How long does everyone's lives have to be put on hold?
Our son and his wife
now live and he works in Tokyo. I would never think of giving up a trip to visit them because of a slightly increased travel security problem.
Next week I am flying to Vietnam from South Korea. I have to admit that I thought of cancelling my plans, or at least postponing them for a time when all the mayhem has subsided.
However, it dawned on me that the damage has been done. And even though I am not a fan of flying in the first place, increased airport security strongly decreases any danger by human agency. Still I think I and my partner will be sitting in our uncomfortable chairs with our eyes wide open and the hairs on the back of our necks sticking up on end.
I fly a lot, and, in so doing, acknowledge that the plane could malfunction and crash. I'm not "more" afraid, because I guess death is death no matter what causes a plane to go down. I am heartened by the brave Pennsylvania passengers who thwarted another attack by somehow wrestling the plane away from the hijackers. Thank God for cell phones, so we know the truth of that flight. It is encouraging to know that, if hijacked, passengers working together have a chance of saving more lives by trying to wrestle hijackers down. I'm a girl, and I would help out in an instant. If it's a choice between we, the passengers dying and we, the passengers plus thousands of others, I'd easily choose just us, the passengers. I'm not afraid to die, especially for a good cause.
Pat van der Veer, Halifax, Canada
I'm travelling with my pregnant wife and 16 month old daughter in a few weeks to the US and the only thing I feel apprehensive about is whether there will be any airlines not bankrupted to be able to make the journey.
Where's Mike Huntley coming from with that comment about cheaper air travel?? Try the exact opposite mate and you'd be getting warmer. Airline jobs are going in their 10's of 1000's worldwide. New security measures are being put in place that will cost millions and inevitably those costs will be passed down to the paying customers.
I am looking forward to being able to get some good deals on flights given that a lot of people will now cancel. keep flying and do not give in!
I'd wait a few more weeks. Airport security is better but that's not saying much for it's more a cosmetic improvement, real change will take a while longer. Besides, the second round of terrorist attacks hasn't occurred yet, it probably will be coming after the West responds with force.
I travel regularly to the West coast of the US where the company I work for has its headquarters. Before the tragedy, I booked a flight to the US with a colleague, leaving this weekend. Despite (maybe because of) the horrendous attacks, I'm determined not to give in to terror and not to cancel. My colleague has. Strange how a single event can affect two people so differently.
Security at US airports is the worst I have ever experienced - worldwide!!
Security staff are often poorly paid immigrants, regularly to be seen to be talking with their colleagues, rather than looking at the x-ray screen - not that they would recognise dangerous items having probably had little training to do so. I have often walked through security checks with a briefcase full of electronic items, cables, batteries and have never, in 7 years of travelling within the US, been stopped. At Birmingham Airport UK - my local - I have often been stopped and asked to turn on my electronic goods - inconvenient, yes, but reassuring!
Employ well experienced security people - cost must not rule!
I am an aspiring commercial pilot and I feel just as safe, if not more so than I did two weeks ago. Airport security is not perfect and never will be. It is one of the inherent risks of flying which are few and far between. There are innumerable amounts of car accidents each day yet people still drive with confidence. Security will get better over time, and the risk of hi-jacking will be reduced. The choice to fly or not depends on how scared you are of the "what ifs".
Right now I do feel safe about travelling
abroad, and maybe even motivated to
do so, because we should refuse to let
terrorists dictate the way we live our lives. If we let them they have already won.
Chris Glover, UK
I'm flying out to Turkey soon, and while I am apprehensive, I still intend to go. Flying has its dangers like any other transport, but if we took that view, surely we would never leave our homes.
After nearly 7 years without a holiday I went to New York in May and had a great time. I was looking forward to returning next month when this tragedy struck. Initial thoughts..."I'm not going back", then a second thought..."I love New York and I'm not afraid". Tragically, lessons have been learnt and security has been stepped up. I will return to New York just as the public of Northern Ireland have to go to work each and every day with the threat of being bombed. We can't give in, we have to keep going.
As a regular traveller to Europe for years now, I have always been astonished and dismayed at the lack of security at US airports compared to those in Europe. Even my children noticed it through the years, and the first thing my 22 year old daughter said last week was "Remember Mom, we always said that it was just a matter of time before the USA would take a direct terrorist hit. The security has simply been too lax." That will all change now, but I, for one, am more than willing to endure increased security in order to enjoy the freedom of travel.
Last weekend, I did a round-trip from Amsterdam to Heathrow. I felt that the new security measures that had been implemented were somewhat ridiculous. At Schipol, for example, my nail scissors were confiscated and sent to Lost and Found, where they lie with, I presume, tons of other confiscated ironmongery. Metal cutlery in the restaurants has been replaced with plastic. Check-in times have been absurdly lengthened.
I did not feel any more secure as a result of these extra precautions - merely irritated. If US airlines had implemented the normal level of security that already existed at European airports, then things might have been different. I do not understand why Europe is now going into panic mode.
Michael Kilpatrick, Cambridge, UK
Surely this attack succeeded because of the element of surprise; now that it's happened the airlines will be wise to it and it's unlikely to happen in any other way. If anything it demonstrates that terrorism can strike anywhere. After all the people in the World Trade Centre weren't travelling; they were at their desks.
It has been widely accepted that internal US flights have incredibly poor records of security compared to international departures, especially international departures from Europe. In the US the internal flight security is paid for by the airlines and the vast majority is out-sourced to the lowest bidder paying its staff the minimum wage.
I for one will continue to travel, but perhaps with the added awareness that security is ever more important.
I am planning to go to India this December. When I called the travel agents, I was doubtful of getting a ticket.
December being Christmas season, I expected all flights to be full but to my astonishment the agent informed me that I can choose any date right up till Dec 24.
I learnt that many people cancelled their plans because of the recent hijackings.
I hope things will get back to normal soon.
We engage in risk everyday no matter what we do. Flying does come with some danger, but the events last week show us that going to work is even more dangerous!
Many people prior to last Tuesday's attacks have fears of travelling, either by air or boat, even by tunnel. Disasters when they occur tend to be large and well reported. These attacks once again bring to the forefront of our minds how vulnerable we are now, not only from malfunctions and freak weather conditions but also at the hands of other people who have no regard for the sanctity of human life. Not only do we want to feel in control of our own destiny and to avoid these methods of transport we can to a point, but when terrorism strikes this largely, we want to remain close to our homes and families as they often feel familiar and safe.
As time moves on though, a degree of normality returns (look at the months after Diana's death) and normal daily business resumes. What the effect of the news that several other groups of terrorists may have been on different planes at the time of the attacks will have though is anyone's guess.
I lived in Warrington when the IRA bombed the town centre and I lived in Manchester when they bombed there. I still go shopping.
Now is probably the safest time to fly. Airlines and airports are on their maximum guard.
R Stevenson, UK
Confidence in air travel is understandably low at the moment but I'm sure it will pass. Following the Zeebrugge ferry disaster and Hatfield train crash, faith in those methods of travel diminished for a while but eventually people went about their business as usual. More people are killed on the roads than by any other method of travel yet most of us are quite content to carry on using that network. For myself, I would happily fly tomorrow - especially if it was back to Malaysia where I enjoyed a great holiday earlier this year.
I am going to Bali at the beginning of November. I have no fear of flying regardless of these terrorist attacks. As I am passing through Heathrow then I will be subject to harsh security checks to ensure that the flight is safe.
I was in Canada when the attacks happened and therefore didn't have much of a choice about travelling by air. However I didn't feel any less safe than usual during my (eventual) flight back to Europe. Security was quite strict, although I felt that what were described as new stringent measures over there were not much different from what I was used to experiencing in the UK. This hasn't put me off flying but I might think twice before going so far with no other way to get home.
Of course air travel isn't 100% safe - it never was. However even after last week, it is still hundreds of times less risky than travelling by car, and I would have no hesitation in flying at the moment.
Besides which, if we let what happened last week turn us into craven idiots who are scared of our own shadows, then we might as well surrender to the terrorists now, and give them everything they want.
Trauma expert Dr James Thompson quizzed
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