Flying the unfriendly skies
From the Washington Times, :
Federal officials have pinpointed an airline flight from Los Angeles to Washington as a potential terrorist target in the past two weeks and have begun scrutinizing the flight crew’s luggage and using security agents to follow pilots preparing for the flight.
Bomb-sniffing dogs are also being stationed in the gate area as passengers of United Airlines Flight 200 from Los Angeles International Airport to Dulles International Airport undergo more intense security checks.
The flight, which departs Los Angeles at 6:55 p.m. Eastern (3:55 local time) and arrives in Dulles at 11:46 p.m. Eastern, has been “sanitized” before takeoff, said one flight crew member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“They absolutely tear everything apart inside the flight bag, every piece of professional literature, flight manuals, head sets, they empty the overnight bag. It’s being scrutinized at a level I have never seen in over 25 years of flying,” the crew member said.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has designated it as a “flight of interest,” according to a memo from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) obtained by The Washington Times.
Pilots and flight attendants “are receiving a thorough second security screening by the TSA, which includes flight bags and all personal belongings. In addition, the pilot conducting the preflight is being shadowed,” the memo said.
“Shadowed,” refers to a policy of preventing pilots from entering the aircraft for preflight inspections until a security escort arrives to follow their movements, said the crew member. A TSA official then observes the pilots from the terminal window.
Neither pilots nor air marshals are receiving an explanation for the intense searches, and neither is the airline nor the pilot unions, according to the memo and the crew member.
The TSA and United Airlines did not return calls seeking comment.