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Thursday, September 07, 2006

False alarm

It has been quite a trying day, largely because I have had my first direct experience of the sort of alerts that are symptomatic of the age we are living in and which are hitting airports all over the world.

Having spent a very productive day in the Scottish Parliament talking to officials and their corporate body about the way that they operate, we caught a plane back from Edinburgh airport to Cardiff. On arriving we were puzzled as to why it was taking so long to unload our luggage when a police officer arrived and we discovered that a threat had been made to the plane.

Piecing together what we were told by the media afterwards together with snatches of overheard conversations, it seems that somebody left a message on an in-flight magazine that led the aircraft crew to believe that there might be a device of some sort on the plane. Consequently, the police were called and carried out a searched. As a result we were left waiting for our luggage for two hours until it had been established that there was no threat.

Although it was quite tiring and a little frustrating, it was clear that these procedures needed to be followed and that the authorities had no alternative but to take the course of action that they did. Mostly, we were given enough information to enable us to know what was going on. The point that is worth making however is that this may have been a slight inconvenience for us, but for those charged with our safety it was an unnecessary distraction. It takes a particular form of courage to go onto a plane to carry out a search when it is possible that there is an explosive device there that could go off at any time. My admiration and respect for those who carry out this role is unlimited
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