The recent incident involving a man trying to blow up a plane bound for Detroit is a wake-up call to everyone who flies.
In the weeks and months following Sept. 11, 2001, most air travelers probably eyed each other warily, taking note of faces and any suspicious activity.
I know I made a mental note to myself that unlike the relatively tame hijackings of the 1960s and '70s where hijackers mostly just wanted a free ride to Cuba and then let the plane and its passengers go on about their business, the game had changed. As the passengers aboard United Airlines flight 93 had done in foiling the fourth hijacked plane on that fateful day, from taking out the U.S. Capitol or the White House, I determined that if action was needed on a plane I would not hesitate to take it.
In the years since 9-11, air travelers have become somewhat complacent. Yes, there are more hassles at check-in. There are ever-changing rules about what you can and can't carry on planes. Weary travelers have gone back to complaining about the long lines and the inconvenience.
But whether it has been luck, the skill of the airline security folks, the willingness of would-be terrorists to lay low for several years until everyone let their guard down, or what, we have not had any more incidents like 9-11 in more than 8 years.
Now, this event on a plane coming in for a landing in Detroit.
Obviously, security does not appear to be as tight at overseas airports where planes take off, headed for the U.S. That has to change.
But another thing that has to change is people's alertness level.
The details have been sketchy but early reports were that at least one passenger on the Detroit-bound flight saw what the bomber was doing and took action to minimize the damage. HIs actions may have saved the plane and more than 100 lives, including those of people on the ground on whom the debris may have rainied down.
Everyone who travels by plane or other means of mass transit, must do so with a mindset of being ready to act to save his or her own life and perhaps those of others. We can't be so caught up in our headphone music or on-screen movies that we don't stay alert to our surroundings.
It's a lesson we have had the oppportunity to re-learn. Hopefully, it will stay with us.
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