We’re told “if you see something, say something.” But as security expert Bruce Schneier has pointed out, when you get amateurs doing security you get amateur security.
The problem is that most bad actors at the airport aren’t as obvious as in the movies. And most of us aren’t trained to know what to look for. Instead we substitute prejudices, what we’ve seen on television, and our imagination.
Monday night an Alaska Airlines employee “spotted two men who she thought looked suspicious” at Newark airport. She “approached them, the men started running and she screamed “evacuate.”
The Alaska employee “hit an alarm..and nearly 200 passengers evacuated the gate.” Passengers ran, hid under seats, and reportedly there was “glass..shattered from people jumping.”
Shooting scare at Newark Airport. Police arrived in seconds. We are all outside on the runway. Terrified . pic.twitter.com/WLDLKb4mKV
— Cristina Centeno (@Coach_Centeno) September 3, 2019
It was all a nothingburger. Police identified the two men that the employee found suspicious. The men were questioned and released.
#EWR It was determined that there was no threat in the Terminal A-3 Satellite. All passengers and employees are being rescreened as a precaution. 
— Newark Liberty Airport (@EWRairport) September 3, 2019
The same ‘see something, say something’ idea caused an economics professor to be removed from a flight over suspected weapons of math instruction.
Unfortunately we can’t rely on the supposed experts either. For instance TSA agents once ran through New York JFK screaming about a bomb and a shooting victim. All that had actually happened was that passengers in the terminal cheered Usain Bolt’s Olympic win.
Also in New York a screener sexually assaulted a passenger, and customs employees are reportedly hazed on rape tables with the theme to jackass playing in the background. Security staff livestreamed sex instead of working as well.