December 31, 2003

French Security

Ran across this item in today's Guardian (viat Instapundit): Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Killer was hired as Air France guard: "The company put in charge of security for Air France flights employed a convicted murderer and a number of others with serious criminal records, it emerged yesterday. The background of the guards was disclosed in a Paris court during a hearing to wind up the company, Pretory, which had been operating security on the French airline for more than two years but went into bankruptcy after tax fraud allegations. " I have mixed emotions about Air France. On one hand, alcoholic beverages on Air France flights are still free. U.S. airlines are charging $5 for a small bottle of California cabernet. French security has its drawbacks and advantages, I suppose. For example, when I flew from Paris to Baltimore on one of the first international flights to leave Charles de Gaulle after 9/11, I carried with me a large bottle of 1998 Bordeaux in a big wooden box. The box was nailed shut, sealed, and could have contained, for all anyone knew, lighter fluid. But passing through passport control the guard merely looked at the bottle and said, "Very good choice monsieur." Other times, the security has been inane. For example, on a flight back home this summer, I was rigorously questioned about how long I'd spent in England while in France (a short 3-day trip.) The questions kept coming. The passengers behind me got irritated. I started to sweat. I finally said, "Look, if I'm somehow in violation of my Visa...what are you going to do...make me stay?" That seemed to break the mental logjam and I was on my way. It's easier to get through security in Paris. Does that make it less secure? You tell me...


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