British Airways Chairman Calls for End to U.S.-style Security Checks

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The chairman of British Airways is making waves across the sea with comments that Americans get it wrong when it comes to airport security.

In a speech to UK airport operators, Martin Broughton called "completely redundant" some airport security checks. And he said Britain should stop "kowtowing" to US demands for increased security.

In particular, Broughton complained about passengers having to take off their shoes and take out their laptops to be inspected at security checkpoints for US-bound flights. These practices, he says, should be stopped.

Of course passengers in both the US and UK have also complained about the rules, imposed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The footwear screening stems from 2001, when British "shoe bomber" Richard Reid hid explosives in his shoes on a transatlantic flight. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has repeatedly said screening shoes increases security.

Extra security checks were also added for in-bound flights into the U.S., after the incident in December in which a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to detonate a device in his underwear on an international Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit.

Broughton told the annual conference of the UK Airport Operations Association in London there is no need to "kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done" in terms of beefing up security on U.S.-bound flights.

He said a lot of the requirements imposed on carriers leaving for the U.S. are not even in place domestically in America, and told the airport operators "We shouldn't stand for that. We should say, 'We'll only do things which we consider to be essential and that you Americans also consider essential."

The BA chairman also said some of the rules are downright confusing. "Take the iPad, they still haven't decided if it is a laptop or it isn't a laptop. So some airports think you should take it out and some think you shouldn't."

Broughton said he is not calling for a weakening of security, just an end to "elements in the security program which are completely redundant and they should be sorted out."

For its part, the TSA carefully tried not to start a war of words, saying in a statement, "TSA works closely with our international partners to ensure the best possible security. We constantly review and evolve our security measures based on the latest intelligence."

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