The most effective aviation security tool

Millions of dollars have been spent on airport security since 9/11, but an incident over Amarillo, Texas yesterday showed the most effective deterrent in the post-9/11 world doesn’t cost the government a dime. It’s passengers.

Ali Reza Shahsavari, 29, of Indialantic, Fla., is under arrest after he shouted “you’re all going to die,” during the flight. Authorities say it doesn’t appear to be any act of terrorism, just a guy with a mental illness.

But this part of the story, from the Amarillo Globe News is the significant part…


Attendants tried to calm Shahsavari before a female flight attendant finally succeeded in quieting him, passenger Doug Oerding, of Sacramento, Calif said.

As the tension mounted, the aircraft began to gain speed and descend, Oerding said. The slender Navy veteran said he put his shoes back on in preparation to act.

“All of us guys were looking at him like, ‘Are we going to have to do something?'” Oerding said after finishing a cigarette outside the Amarillo terminal while waiting to reboard the plane.

Coincidentally, Ben Sandilands, who writes the Plane Talking blog in Australia, today applauds the near elimination of air marshals on flights in that country, who he says are not needed as long as there are passengers.


When a religious nutter tried to hijack a Qantaslink flight between Melbourne and Launceston on 28 May, 2003, by attacking a flight attendant with sharpened wooden stakes concealed in his clothes, passengers leaped from their seats to help the other flight attendant subdue him.

The plane was back on the ground in Melbourne, surrounded by police, within minutes of the attack. Had there been two sky marshals on board, it would not have made it back to the airport any sooner, but there could have been a pile of corpses on the floor, including the two flight attendants.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Ah, those charming “religious nutters”.

    If only their preferred flavor of Flying Spaghetti Monster would give them their own wings,

    we wouldn’t have to be concerned about them flying on earthly aircraft

    and wanting to take other not quite ready for their final reward passengers to heaven with them.

  • Justin H

    Bruce Schnier has said that there have been only two improvements to aviation security since 9/11: Reinforced cockpit doors and passengers that will fight back. Everything else is just security theater and a waste of money.