Do you feel safe flying?

President Obama spoke yesterday of his concerns about airline security. Closer to home, there was a bomb scare at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Do you feel safe flying?

Comments from Facebook:

I feel as safe flying as I do doing many other things such as walking downtown Minneapolis at night or driving on the freeway. -Lisa Nemer Noah

Of course I feel safe flying. It is simple mathematics. Getting behind the wheel of a car is much more dangerous. If I feel unsafe flying, then I should feel more unsafe driving. -James P. Berka

I can’t afford to go anywhere. Safety doesn’t register. -Marcia Marcia Marcia

Drunk drivers scare me more. Look at the stats. -Nedra Van Duyn

If it’s your day to go, it’s your day. You can’t live your life worrying about some random act that might or might not occur. -Maggie Wetteland

Comments texted to MPR:

Statistically speaking, one is more likley to die while driving or from food-borne illness than from a terrorist attack or plane crash. -Angela, Santiago, MN

Scared? NO WAY! Gonna fly my family to Mexico in one week. -Chad, Lakeville, MN

I cannot afford to fly so I am grateful not to have to decide whether it is safe enough for my family. -Lindsey

Airports aren’t any safer, they’ve just added another window-dressing of safety, but that doesn’t worry me. I fly all the time and it’s much safer than driving in your own hometown. -Bobak, Minneapolis, MN

I’m more scared of irrational TSA “security theater” and erosion of our freedoms than of any terrorist threat to air travel. -Josh, Shoreview, MN

I feel generally safe. It’s still statistically safer than other things like ground transportation. -Elizabeth

Yes, I always have felt safe flying. I’m 17 and i flew for the first time last summer and i didn’t feel like i was in danger at all. -anonymous

Flying is safe. TSA is not reacting in a planned, cohesive manner. -anonymous

I do not feel safe flying because of the fear mongering and invasiveness, not the actual threats themselves. -anonymous

  • Amanda N.

    Yes I feel safe flying. The chance of being involved in a terrorist attack is so extremely low and as we saw with the attempted attack on Christmas, the chance that the attack will even be successful is even lower. I’m far more likely to be in a car accident. One of the biggest things that I think has improved security on airlines is the cockpit doors that make the chances of someone gaining control of the plane almost zero. The other biggest thing is that passengers are not afraid to stand up to attackers and prevent them from carrying out their plan. These two things make me feel far safer flying than anything else the TSA has done in the name of “security.”

  • I am a Gold level flyer on Delta/Northwest. I realize the TSA is doing a lot behind the scenes and that I appreciate. I feel safe flying, and the added measures I’ve heard about in some cases would do little to make me feel safer – just more inconvenienced. The key is that in the Christmas underwear bomber episode, the intelligence services failed, and miserably. So if what they do isn’t working, would more screening make much of a difference?

  • No, as “safety” is an illusion. Knowing this creates greater awareness of my surroundings and allows me to embrace the experience, for better or worse.

  • Neil

    Airline security is totally overblown, especially in the United States. Until September 11, one could bring a swiss army knife on the plane and family and friends could come see each other off at the gate. The security measures have taken the fun out of flying, and the airlines in the United States in particular have used the whole security environment to eliminate virtually all comforts of flying. Before September 11, you would even get Davanni’s pizza on a Northwest flight to Chicago, now you get nothing. It’s all connected. If you go on a Lufthansa or an AirFrance flight, they have more or less kept their same protocols, and security is comfortable, trustworthy and the service is extraordinary in comparison to airlines in the United States.

  • Clark

    Yes. Americans over react to everything. I fly in Europe for business every month and never take off my shoes or worry about 3 oz bottles.

    The TSA is nothing more then a jobs program.

    Scanning old ladies and young kids is ridiculous!

  • Zach

    Even after the successful terrorist attacks in 2001 flying was significantly safer than driving. Of course I feel safe flying.

  • Brad Koehn

    Do I feel safe flying on the airlines? Of course. Do I feel like flying on the airlines is remotely convenient? No, so I’m getting my private pilot’s license. That way I can come and go as I please, without being subjected to security checkpoints and TSA theater, and without the airline’s need to squeeze every gram of profit from me.

  • Rochelle Wolf

    My husband and I went to China in October. We are novice fliers so we didn’t know what to expect really at the airports. What we found here in MPLS and San Francisco was appalling! My husband needs a CPap machine to breath at night, so we were traveling with it in our carry-on luggage. With the machine was an adaptor that would allow us to plug in the machine into a cigarette lighter, just in case we needed it. When traveled thru the US airports without anyone inspecting the machine or the adaptor. When we left Beijing, the staff pulled us aside and carefully inspected the machine as well as the adaptor. They explained that the adaptor had flagged in their xray machine because it looked like a detonator. They pulled everything out and 3 guards discussed what they should do. One of the inspectors went over to a computer and pulled up the description of the item, confirming what it was. They put everything back in our bag and sent us on our way. This was all done very politely and professionally. In San Francisco, when we arrived, the TSA inspectors were gabbing with each other and not paying any attention to the passengers in the customs line. The adaptor that looks like a detonator raised no eyebrows or caused any extra inspection. The airport was filthy with garbage cans overflowing. Staff were racing around on those golf carts and standing around in groups chatting. While we were waiting for our connecting flight I noticed a suitcase out on tarmak. It appeared to have fallen off one of the baggage carts. I watched while several employees walked passed it, drove passed it in carts. Finally after about 20 minutes a baggage handler – I assume – scooped it up and put it on the cart. What if it had been something dangerous?

    I guess my point is that our airports do not give the impression of being safe when compared to China. The TSA staff did not appear to be vigilant or professional. Either here at Mpls or in San Francisco. I am not surprised that the bomber was able to get as far as he did. What is surprising is that is hasn’t happened sooner. If we want air travel to be safe, we need to invest in the people that make it safe. Not machines.

  • doug browbn

    Yes. I’m scared to death that the TSA thugs will molest me.

  • R. M.

    I feel safer at an airplane than I do in my car on Minnesota roads. I feel safer in an airport than I do in a suburban mall. The thought of full body scanners, however, worries me greatly. As a transgender woman, the invasion of privacy that represents makes me *more* subject to scrutiny and discrimination than it makes me safe.

  • Ginger

    No – The only threats the TSA cares about are threats to their authority.

  • Ginger

    No–I feel safer flying than I do driving on 694.

  • bsimon

    I feel safe flying, but I avoid it because its so tedious, thanks to TSA rules, baggage fees and the general lack of service combined with nickel and diming of customers. Its a miserable experience.

  • bob

    Yup. I spend no time at all worrying about terrorists.

    And I wish NPR and MPR would dial down their coverage of this issue — it just feeds the hysteria.

  • DMox

    I have flown quite a bit in the last ten years, for work & for play. In fact, I was one of those stranded for days, traveling on 9/11. I have participated in the body scan security trials, and did not find them to be intrusive or aggravating in the least. They are quick, thorough, & no less private than any other security measure. We need to get over ourselves.

    I feel safe flying because I accept that there is no 100% safe way to travel. There will be accidents, there will be blunders, and so long as there are crazy zealots in the world, there will be terrorism. America needs to wake up, realize that not everything in the world needs to be dimmed down to the lowest common denominator for their convenience, and understand that life is not 100% fool proof.

    In reading some of the other comments, I have to agree with those who recognize the common thread of greed in the Airports, Airlines & TSA programs. There are many “security measures” that fail to prove to me or anyone I know that they are nothing more than “profit measures.” I wonder how much more bottled water the airports have sold, at such an inflated “airport” price, since they decided not to allow water bottles on. (remember how you used to be able to just open & sip your drink to prove it wasn’t nitro or acid or whatever, then all of the sudden we couldn’t bring anything?) Now that they have a captive audience, I’d be interested in seeing a cost analysis of the price & portion size of restaurant food at Airports – in front of and behind the security checkpoint. I know for a fact I’ve paid a dollar or two extra for the same meal behind the security checkpoint rather than in the public area. But the public as a whole doesn’t cry foul on these policies or these so called “security measures” as we are kept scared by the occasional “bomb plot” or “security scare” at our local airports. We’re told to sit down, line up, shut up, and not worry, as we’re not security professionals, and we don’t know how to deal with these problems. Meanwhile, you’re now being herded like cattle, shoeless & without any idea of what or why, down to the terminal profit shop, and you’re not allowed to ask why, for risk of being dragged off & hassled. Feel secure? You shouldn’t. You should, however, feel outraged, and empowered to do something about it.

  • Timothy F.

    Absolutely, and it has very little to do with the TSA.

  • Dave

    Yes. I think planes are stupid targets when you can just carry a duffel bag of high explosives onto the DC or NYC metro.

    What makes me feel unsafe are the fabrications that I am subjected to every time I fly, such as “the flight attendant will alert me when it is safe to use portable electronic devices.”

  • James

    There is nothing more intimidating than a properly trained Law Enforcement Officer carrying a loaded M-4 or MP-5 as security in the airport AND on the plane. Profiling is also AOK. This would make me feel more secure.


  • Jessica Sundheim

    Yes! I flew to Tennessee with my 8 month old and 3 year old at VERY affordable rates in October of 2001. I’m not afraid of these people. After 9-11, they haven’t succeeded in the US. I love flying and I have family all over. This September we flew to Georgia to visit my dad with four kids (paid less for our tickets than I did in October 2001) and had a great time! I don’t work in the industry, or know anyone who does, but I hope airlines succeed because if we had to drive to Georgia we wouldn’t get back.

  • Dave

    Forgive my antisocial specificity below. I should have just said that there are much softer targets than a regional jet.

  • Ben Chorn

    I’ll feel safer if there are full-body scans and TSA agents actually follow the no-fly list of suspected terrorists. With that aside, I still feel safer flying than driving with all the maniac and drunk drivers out there.

  • DMays

    Not to change the topic, but I’m much more worried about the current state of Health Care than any type of threat associated with flying. Flying is a safer bet than being under-insured in America.

  • Beth

    I feel safe flying because I do it often enough, it’s simply part of my lifestyle. I feel safe living in the city, even though there are burglaries in my neighborhood, because it’s my lifestyle. My friends who do not fly often may not feel as safe, just as my friends who do not live in the city are afraid of it.

  • Tom Ruffaner

    Yes. I feel safe when flying but I don’t fly the most likely routes for terrorists. I do think the TSA needs to improve its surveillance and also implement frequent “test” bags to evaluate the performance of their personnel and securtity system in general. I have no problem with the high tech screening.

  • jack Goldman

    I did feel safe flying before 1990. Since America has invaded the Middle East, bombing Iraq, bombing Muslims to defend Jewish Israel, I now do not feel safe flying. Foreigners rightly and justly attack anyone in a democracy that funds this war in the Middle East. America deserved 9/11 because of a foreign policy that is not based on rule of law. America’s foreign policy is based on rule of racism, supporting a religion as a nation state.

    American Christians falsely believe Jews will be vaporized in Israel and Jesus will come down from the clouds to bring Heaven to Earth. This is a crisis in foreign policy. The Bible was written by people who thought the Earth was flat, the Sun circled the Earth, and the Earth was at the center of the Universe. We now know better but the ancient and racist texts like the obsolete Old Testament still haunt us. Jews, Hebrews, Zionists and their lackeys, the Christians, are fighting an unjust war in the Middle East.

    Americans are victims in airplanes as justifiable targets of freedom fighters in the Middle East who want to be left alone by Americans and Zionists. I don’t feel safe flying because of an evil American foreign policy based on rule of racism instead of rule of law. America must suspend it’s unconditional blind support of Israel and stop all financial subsidies to the failed state of Israel so it can stand on it’s own two feet or drop dead.

    When we get back to rule of law I will feel safer flying.

  • Bill

    No, I don’t feel safe. But, I hope to have good luck when I choose to fly.

    I hope for good luck because it’s clear TSA, Airports, and Intelligence Agencies aren’t capable of sharing the most basic information to ensure a reasonalbe level of safety.

  • Cynthia M

    When I see an elderly hard of hearing man made to sit down and take off his shoes with his wife repeating the instructions over and over, I fear for my flying…he is an obvious non risk and this feeling is increased when the man on the NWA flight was able to get through screening while a 4 year old boy or a decorated police officer with a name similar to some name on the “no fly” list can not get their name removed once they are cleared….TSA needs major overhaul and training.

  • David Arcaine

    I feel safe with most routine activities. Unwarranted fear just increases stress and wears down the body and mind, which ironically causes you to die quicker.

  • Janet

    Yes, once we accept that human error can only be reduced, not eliminated and that human behavior is unpredictable. The odds of being hurt by a terrorist is so extremely low that worrying about it is a waste of time and emotion.

  • Elizabeth

    I don’t think any security system can guarantee against random acts of terrorism. Why are we only concerned about planes? Anyone could walk into a busy airport and blow themselves up and kill more people than on one airplane.

    So no, I am not afraid of actually being on a plane, nor am I overly worried about who’s flying with me. What I am worried about is getting accosted at the airport based on new ‘security’ rules because of my last name. I am afraid of racial profiling for my family because my husband is originally from one of the ‘terror’ countries, happens to have dark hair and a beard – I doubt it will matter that he is an American citizen.

  • Jo

    During the actual flight, I feel perfectly at ease – but then again I’ve been flying since I was a babe in arms.

    HOWEVER, all the “supposed” security increases do nothing except stress me out. I have started choosing alternate modes of transportation as I am not comfortable with being nearly stripped just to see if I *might* be carrying something I shouldn’t be. Oh yes, be afraid America, a mother with babe in arms is coming to get you! *drip drip sarcasm*

    Whatever happened to that old adage, violence only begets violence? Well, at this point, I don’t care *who* threw the first stone, I just want it to stop. We don’t need more security, we need smarter security. Terrorists are already successful as they are terrifying America through fear tactics. They are like the playground bullies, let’s not give them the satisfaction of reacting. Ignore them and they will become bored. Or better yet, use your mind to understand them and not fear them.

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