Qatar Airways’ CEO Speaks Out Against “Excessive” Passenger Security

Over the past few years the topic of “Security Theater” has come up more often than passengers complaining about checked baggage fees. The inconsistencies surrounding passenger security often makes for a quick sound bite on the news, or a one liner quote in print (and online) stories because it is generally an easy topic to dredge up and write something captivating about.

While the majority of comments regarding ineffective passenger security fall on deaf ears, Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways has taken his opinions on the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) security procedures … and forcing its unequal security procedures on other nations.

Al Baker does not feel TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSO) are always putting security at the forefront and checkpoints, stating that “In the United States they are asking for checks on other countries while they themselves do not comply with this on their internal flights.” and “I’ve been on U.S internal flights and I’ve quite frankly I found it very lax, very unfocused and at times people were talking to each other [instead of] inspecting people’s items.”

While Martin Broughton, Chairman of British Airways, has recently stated that the ineffective and stringent security process at airports is damaging the airline industry, Qatar Airways’ Al Baker has followed that statement referring for airport security procedures as “excessive” and that “sometimes we are over reacting.”

One of Al Baker’s comments yesterday regarding airport security that I think many would agree with is “Asking people to remove flat shoes. What can you conceal in a flat shoe?”

If enough airline top executives are able to speak in unison they have the greatest chance of working for an effective change in commercial airline passenger security. There are multiple effective security procedures and practices that are effective and many that are not.  These procedures and practices must be evaluated then a new plan for security be implemented … but someone needs to take the lead … one can only hope that either Mr. Broughton or Mr. Al Baker would be willing to step up to the challenge for the benefit of not only the airline industry’s financial interests, but also improving security overall.

Happy Flying!


  1. Whilst “excessive safety” at airports nurtures compassionate airline indignation, the following topic (which sets my own hair-roots erect !) is not being much echoed by Operators, as far as I have noted : “seat choice in (3+3) narrowbody aircraft cabins is not neutral to physical safety”.

    The venue is derived from interpretation by Safety Experts of “in-camera” (huis-clos) statistics in hands of Airbus, Boeing and of the operators themselves, who videotape their emergency evacuation drills : for the (3+3) single aisle 737 or A320 types, take say, 737NG-900, with its 2×4 available emergency exits, whereof 2×2 located overwing, in average, out of the LAST NINE PERSONS ESCAPING (through 4 of the available exits, ie, out of the last 4×9=36 passengers escaping), some SEVEN (x4=28) or 78 % are retraceable (from their dossard numbers) as originating from seats “A” or “F”, ie from an OUTER SEAT (LHS or RHS) in certain given groups of the triples; the further away from the Emergency Exits, the later they escaped.

    Meaning this : in a typical all-Y 32″ pitch 737NG-900 cabin (3+3) with 31 rows (186 seats) the groups of seats in rows 21-25 in the aft cabin, plus the groups of seats in rows 7-11 in the forward cabin, are the “DEATH SEATS”, plus all of seats 5A+5F, 6A+6F … 13A+13F fwd and 20A+20F, 21A+21F, … 27A+27F aft are the “SUPER DEATH SEATS” : if you are seated here and cabin fire is on, you’ll be evacuating the cabin amongst the last, ie your chances to escape the toxic smokes is greatly impaired vs other seats.

    Shouldn’t there be an OBLIGATION OF INFORMATION by Operators to Travelling Customers ? : in the BOOKING process, if the traveller is selecting a “death seat” or a “super death seat”, hasn’t he or she the RIGHT TO KNOW that his or her SAFETY is IMPAIRED ? Shouldn’t an automatic – compulsory, by FAA regulations – WARNING pop up with a tick to be introduced from the screen by the traveller confirming his or her full awareness and acceptance of the impaired safety situation ?

    The foregoing is not branded, it holds for both A321 and 737NG-900 (3+3).

    I don’t know if Qatar Airways fly with A321s or 737NG-900s on their regional Feeder network, but I’d be genuinely interested to hear Mr Akbar Al Baker’s personal opinion about this – to myself – particularly hair-raising issue ?!

  2. All well and good if If Qatar Airways doesn’t mind carrying ultra-HAZMAT in the form of unscreened live munitions, as has been reported, but not so much for the traveling public.

  3. Qatar recently transported explosives from Yemen as air cargo … as did other carriers. This highlights the gaps in air cargo security and does not address the inconsistent nature of air passenger security and it’s ineffective procedures.

    Happy Flying!


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