Can You Really Hijack An Airplane With A Belt?

Edward writes:

    I lost a zippo a few years ago. I was flying from the UK to Chicago to attend my sister’s wedding, and was told I couldn’t board the plane with it. It was a tough choice…I still miss that zippo…

    What REALLY pissed me off was having a belt taken away from me. It was leather with grommets all over it (as was the style of the time). Now, if I’m looking for an improvised weapon, there are a lot of things I’d choose…one of the glass bottles of wine you get on the plane, a high-heeled shoe, the screaming baby in front of me…before I go swinging a belt. Seriously…”Look out! He’s got a belt! With GROMMETS in it! Do what he says!”.

    So I apologise to everyone in Heathrow Terminal 3, Chicago O’Hare, and Washington Dulles who had to see my arse crack that magnificent trip. Sorry. Really.

Edward raises an interesting question: what exactly qualifies something as a potential terrorist tool? And would a lighter or pocket knife really be enough to take over an airplane, post-September 11th?

As a pipe smoker, every time I get on a flight I end up having to give up about $1.50 worth of pipe tools, which are cheap little devices to remove ash and gunk from a pipe. It’s not a big deal, but as the flight draws on, the absurdity of my possessions being confiscated combined with the comfort level of an Auschwitz cattle car makes me start fantasizing about easy ways in which I could kill my fellow travelers. For example, I could snap the ear pieces off of my glasses, clench them in my fists and gouge them into the spurting eye sockets of a stewardess. Or I could puncture someone’s throat with a pen. Or garrote someone with the complimentary headphones. Hurting someone with just about anything is, after all, pretty trivial.

But the reason September 11th’s attacks worked was not because of the ingenuity of the hijackers, but because at that time we’d all been trained to just sit back complacently, not be a hero, enjoy your free flight to Cuba. Times have changed — no one’s going to be able to try to take over an airplane with a piece of cardboard and a razor blade anymore without about a hundred passengers blitzing him.