Body Found in Landing Gear of JFK to Tokyo Flight

As a headline in yesterday’s news this falls somewhere between tragic and absurd.

On a human scale the tragedy is immense. For few of us can imagine the kind of desperation required to climb inside the undercarriage of a plane embarking on a 14 second flight, never mind one of 14 hours.

On every other level, it is absurd.

This is the industry that is so security conscious it insists that mothers drink their infants’ formula to ensure it is not explosive, requires we pull laptops out of bags by the millions, demands we place shoes separately on conveyor belts, and arrests anyone using language they deem threatening. Which they leave open to broad subjective interpretation.

As a country we have spent billions on increased security, considered racial profiling, and are now debating the morality versus security issues of full body scanners. We put two year old children on the no-fly list. Question anyone buying one-way tickets. And question them again if they buy them with cash. We are entitled to ask for private pat downs, but may not refuse them; a presumption of guilt over innocence.

All of this in order to prevent the desperate from getting on board.

Defeated by a single man, desperate enough to find another way.

A stark and tragic reminder that any system is only as good as its weakest link.

Which is usually much closer than we think.