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Airport Security at Unprecedented Levels


The level of security at airports around the world is at unprecedented levels. Even so, security personnel say the only way to achieve 100 percent safety would be to shut down the airline industry.

Raouf Helmy is in charge of security at Cairo International Airport. He says extraordinary measures are being taken - both in Cairo and at airports around the world - in an effort to protect the lives of passengers and crew members in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in the United States.

For instance, he says metal detectors are now set for maximum sensitivity. All luggage is being scanned and frequently opened. Carry-on luggage is being examined, both by machine and by hand, and is then taken directly to the airplane by security personnel.

Anything that could be used as a potential weapon is being confiscated by Egyptian airport security.

Even so, Raouf Helmy says if someone is determined to highjack an airplane they do not need bombs, guns, or knives. He remembers one hijacking incident. "Someone kidnapped an aircraft with a pencil," he said. "Put it in the neck of the pilot. He thought this was a knife, and he kidnapped the aircraft. So he was X-rayed, he was checked, he has nothing metal, he has a pen. Just put the pen in the pilot's neck, the pilot didn't see it, and he kidnapped the aircraft. It happened."

Flight crews say they are experiencing levels of security they have never before seen.

Mirett Abdel Monein is a flight attendant for Egypt Air. She describes the stringent security precautions she experienced while flying from Montreal to Cairo. "For us, who are crew members, we have never been checked like this before," she said. "We are an airline crew. We have been checked very serious."

Ms. Monein says she is seriously considering leaving her profession because she has become very afraid.

But such is not the case for passenger Don Finberg. He was traveling back to New York from Cairo. "Quite frankly, I'm not concerned now," he said. "I think whatever happened has happened and security will be very good. And, while it may be very tough to get into New York, that's the only concern. Flights being canceled. Things of that nature."

A French woman was dropping off her teenaged daughter at Cairo airport for a flight to Paris. The woman said she is worried about her daughter's safety. But like millions around the world, her daughter has no choice but to fly. Consequently, the mother said, from now on she will always be deeply concerned anytime her daughter flies.

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