Airport Arrival Cameras

| Comments (4) | Security: Airport
Check out this picture of the arrival escalator at SFO:

I'm not sure exactly what all these gizmos are, but they seem to be some sort of cameras. and one flashed at me as I was coming down the escalator to baggage claim. Note that even though I was coming in from Canada, these are positioned in domestic arrivals, so it's not just a matter of recording people entering the country. On the other hand, I didn't see any cameras on other levels, but maybe I just missed them.

P.S. Have you noticed how the new security measures that seem to be inevitably introduced after attacks, while perhaps not particularly effective, seem to line up pretty well with what the airlines wanted anyway? The rationale for the post-9/11 physical identification requirements is to support the no-fly list, but it also makes tickets non-transferable, which is good for airline revenues. Similarly, the airlines would prefer that people stayed in their seats (this makes beverage service, etc. easier) and brought less carryon, and tada, TSA delivers. OK, that's overstating things a bit; I don't really think TSA is deliberately designing security procedures to accomodate the airlines, but their policies, which are generally restrict passenger choices, have acted in a way that shifts the balance of power between the airlines and their customers in a way that the customers probably wouldn't have accepted if those policies weren't presented as security measures.

4 Comments

certainly seems like a serendipitous thing that baggage fees are starting to pile on at just the time that all carryons are being banned. next thing you know, you'll have to fly naked and they'll charge you for one of those disposable hospital gowns
reminds me of this _New_Yorker_ cartoon
http://www.cartoonbank.com/2008/Remember-when-it-didnt-cost-extra-to-sit-inside-the-plane/invt/132226
(apologies if that's a customized link that leads dear reader nowhere)
not that i don't feel sorry for the airlines, who have a formidable dilemma, caught between the whims of the traveling public, the business cycle and its impact on business travel, commodities prices, labor muscle-flexing, government security mandates, roll-on luggage that just barely fits, etc., in addition to the usual rock, hard place, and terrorists

I hate to quote Bruce Schneier, but:

I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.

There seems to be some confusion here about the economics of air travel. Air travel customers are extremely price-conscious, and airlines have large sunk costs that push them to maximize (within limits) the number of customers they serve. As a result, airlines are constantly cutting their prices--and hence their margins--to the bone in order to attract more customers, and looking for ways to cut costs without completely alienating passengers.

Airlines are thus very unlikely to reap a windfall from increased baggage fees. Rather, the increased revenue will likely be used to cut base fares. The introduction of baggage fees was most probably a consequence of the spike in fuel prices, which made the difference in cost between baggage-laden and baggage-light customers high enough that cutting prices for the latter (likely mostly high-revenue business customers) became worth the extra customer hassle.

Likewise for non-transferrable tickets--the revenue increase will likely just be plowed back into reduced ticket costs. (And I suspect that the difference here is minute in any event.)

Customers love to complain about cost-cutting inconveniences imposed by airlines. But airlines are well aware of the vast majority of customers' revealed preference--which is for low prices, pretty much to the exclusion of all other considerations.

I can't see quite what you're pointing at but it looks like you mean the black rectangular things up near the ceiling. I believe those are Doppler motion/direction sensors, to set off an alarm if someone tries to dash up the escalator or stairs from the baggage claim to the "sterile" (secure) area. There are probably some cameras there too, but I have come to expect those pretty much everywhere at airports.

There's a description of measures that may be used to make sure the exits are secure at http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6507278.html

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