At CKS (SYD) airport on check – in, 24 March my wife and I received our Boarding Passes Upon entering the Immigration/Security area I was subjected to a very brief “frisk” search – entirely expected in travelling to the US and have been subjected to similar in the past. Just people doing their job – although it is usually my wife that is singled out due to the jewellery she insists upon wearing.
Upon transferring to JFK flight at LAX – immigration we were in a long queue facing two very busy security checkpoints. An official came down the line of perhaps 80-100 people checking Boarding Passes.
Upon reaching my wife and I – the official stopped – took hold of my boarding pass and Passport – requested me to follow him – in very strong terms and led me to a position off to one side of the queue – in the centre of the area.
He then called another official over and told him to stand with me. I enquired from this official what was happening. He remained mute – possibly trained not to engage in conversation.
I stood in this position for perhaps 10 minutes – my wife progressed by herself in the queue – she appeared as anxious as to the situation – she also had not been provided with any explanation.
At the expiry of about 10 minutes – I was asked to follow the official to an isolated area behind the security checkpoints. A second official then informed me that I was going to be subjected to an intrusive body search – also that my hand luggage would be searched.
I enquired from this official – why I had been singled out for this purpose – obviously again trained not to engage in conversation – however he showed me my boarding pass and indicated “SSSS” stamped upon the pass.
I was then subjected to an intensive “frisk search” – hand luggage was upended onto a table – subjected to a number of swipes.
I enquired on a number of occasions as to the significance of the “SSSS” notation – I did not receive a reply.
The Boarding Pass was issued at Sydney Airport – by an Australian QANTAS employee.
It would be fair to say that I have never suffered - or sustained the level of humiliation, frustration and bewilderment that I endured at LAX. The experience equally shared by my wife who had no idea as to my wellbeing or whereabouts.
All – it would seem - due to a QANTAS employee or a QANTAS computer system (employee programmed) randomly selecting me, without any explanation or forewarning - WHY?
I totally understand the US needing to exact a high level of security – and I would have no problem accepting the imposition – IF – I had been given a warning or explanation for my selection.
To be selected for this level of degradation by the airline that we had chosen and paid money to fly with is totally beyond my level of comprehension.
There would appear to be a complete lack of racial profiling or risk assessment.
We are now past - QANTAS - frequent flyers.