Nightly News | November 22, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The close calls we've had with terrorism in recent months haven't started in airports here at home, but in Europe. NBC 's Jim Maceda is at London Heathrow tonight with the latest on how they have been handling security over there. Jim , good evening.
JIM MACEDA reporting: Hi, Brian . Well, security checks and pat-downs have also put a strain on passengers' patience overseas, but so far, at least, they're mostly taking it in stride. Across Europe security at major airports for US bound flights has become time consuming and personal.
Unidentified Man: Americans are paranoid about security. Simple as that.
MACEDA: Even Heathrow Airport officials admit that when it comes to removing shoes and laptops before scanning, there's overkill in the system.
Mr. COLIN MATTHEWS (British Airports Authority CEO): I think we could do a better job for passengers, make it more comfortable for them.
MACEDA: But there's no rethinking this: Richard Reid , the shoe bomber, and the so-called underwear bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab , were both on US planes that departed from Europe.
Mr. SIMON CALDER ("The Independent" Senior Travel Editor): I think in Europe we have now reluctantly accepted the fact that when you buy an airline ticket, you agree to surrender your dignity.
MACEDA: Since the Christmas day attack, what was unheard of before, full body scanners and hands-on searches, not nearly as uncomfortable as stateside, are now more visible, with varying degrees of acceptance. After a three month trial period, Paris airport authorities dropped all use of full body scanners, calling them too invasive. Instead, passengers to the US and other high risk countries undergo obligatory pat-downs with few complaints. Great Britain and Germany now use a handful of body scanners between them. Pat-downs are random, or occur if scanners or profilers pick up something suspicious. Opinions generally are mixed, but there's been little outcry.
Unidentified Woman: I don't, as a rule, mind being searched and all that, as long as they're polite.
MACEDA: And Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has avoided any controversy. Its scanners use radio waves to detect explosives, even liquids, without an actual image of the passenger's body. Other European airports are looking at similar technology. But security experts say the biggest difference is attitude, Brian . Europeans, they say, are less likely to question an intrusion on personal freedom if there's a greater good, like stopping a terrorist attack. Brian :
WILLIAMS: All right, Jim Maceda with the view from overseas tonight. Jim , thanks.