Airport security took a huge step back this week, with the departure of a Korean Air plane bound for Beijing that landed in San Francisco. At that time, San Francisco Airport authorities insisted that no lax security procedures were at fault, and that a mechanical problem was to blame. But now the Federal Aviation Administration is looking into the situation, and that search for answers does not look promising.
Right now, it seems pretty clear that an FAA-approved security barrier intended to keep passengers from getting through a plane’s doors while still inside the airport was ineffective. Whatever happened to robust security measures? As a result, frustrated passengers rushed the cockpit door in an attempt to get back to their planes, and many people on board the plane were injured by a substance that was flying out from that damaged barrier. Then, in an unusual move for an airline, the plane was evacuated from the runway and the landing was aborted, with passengers sent on the ground to wait to take another flight. It is not clear what happened to that plane and whether the passengers left safely. If so, it’s likely they were not as lucky as the passengers on the Korean Air flight.
The sad thing is, this is all sadly not an isolated incident. There were 10 reported non-threatening occurrences in 2018 where a plane landed at an airport only to have to evacuate passengers and land again because of lack of security. It’s a startling statistic, one that has not escaped the attention of airlines.
Three prominent airports were awarded a zero rating for airline passenger safety last year by AirlineRatings.com, the only civil aviation agency in the world to do so. The worst airline rating was given to British Airways at just 15.3/100, followed by Emirates at 18.1 and Virgin Atlantic at 19.1. Only Taiwanese carrier EVA Air landed above a 20. This makes the choice of Emirates for the lowest rating in the U.S. a no-brainer. Aside from the overall slide in airline passenger safety, the company came in with a transatlantic rating of just 13.7, its lowest ever. The company has had a history of allegedly trying to cut corners when it comes to safety, including allegations of tampering with electronic devices, and the use of cushions as restraints for people in the back of a plane. As for London’s Heathrow, it has a score of 14.4, which is not a great way to win a Best Airline of the Year Award. In fact, the only UK airline on the list was easyJet, which scored 21.4/100, more than three times better than Heathrow.
Some highlights from the other worst-performing airlines: