The Latest on Cargo Security Measures

It's been three weeks since explosives were found in cargo packages destined for the US. Although the public focus on security has shifted to the US Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) rigorous screening of passengers, cargo carriers are in the process of reviewing and improving their security measures as well.

“Right now, we are meeting with various government agencies and global industry groups and sharing best practices,” says Susan Rosenberg, public relations manager with UPS in Atlanta. Rosenberg points out that UPS chairs a number of US and international security committees and is continually reviewing its own processes and procedures. “Part of the dialog we have internally is balancing the response to any additional threats and keeping commerce moving,” she says. “Security activities within each individual country vary and our priority is to protect our people, our aircraft and our customers' shipments.”

Like any global business, cargo carriers must meet numerous local and regional security standards. Similar to environmental regulations, these vary from country to country. “This is definitely a global effort,” says Rosenberg, “and we are sharing information throughout our international network as well as within specific regions and countries.”

Since the explosives were first discovered on October 29, governments, security agencies and carriers have been careful not to point fingers at one another. UPS will say that its security review includes the various subcontractors and freight agencies that help support its global network.

In some cases, says Rosenberg, UPS itself acts as a freight forwarder — loading cargo on to other carriers. An effective security process has to look at the entire landscape of the supply chain from sourcing to delivery and back through the return process if necessary, she says. “We are not looking at one [all encompassing] security program; we are looking at all of the issues and all of the standards and seeing where there are consistencies across the globe.”

Because of legal requirements, carriers can't publicly discuss the security measures that they have in place or plan to execute in the future. UPS' current system contains numerous layers of inspection and screening, Rosenberg says. However, UPS review is being done with an eye toward improving security at any point in the process. “Right now, we can be most effective by being closely involved with the global organizations that are reviewing security protocols and determining what additional changes they may make. Within these reviews — which are ongoing — we will take any opportunity we can to see what we can enhance,” Rosenberg says.

In the meantime, the TSA has strengthened its passenger-screening methods mere days before the holiday travel season. Depending on who you listen to, the TSA is either irradiating people to death or groping grannies. Business travelers: how are you faring under the new system? And are you dreading traveling for the holidays?

13 comments on “The Latest on Cargo Security Measures

  1. AnalyzeThis
    November 20, 2010

    Personally, I think the hysteria surrounding the cargo incident has mostly dissipated. Yes, obviously some security measures have been changed, but I was concerned that due to panic even more drastic measures would be implemented.

    I'm not really concerned about traveling. I think we've all just grown accustomed to the inconvenience of security screening during airline travel. The whole pat-down controversy and naked body scanner concerns are annoyances, obviously, but what is the alternative? Traveling cross-country via train? It's just something we as consumers have to deal with.

    Still, there are times I long for the days when one could walk into an airport, buy a one-way ticket with cash, and stroll onto a plane for a domestic flight without having to pass any security checks whatsoever. Those days are long, long gone.

  2. Parser
    November 20, 2010

    No, these security measures will not stop me from travel. I would choose x-ray scanner. If you look closely on the energy density these scanners radiate several 1000 times less than in-flight radiation at the cursing altitude. However for those who travel often and especially the flight crew should not go through this. I do not understand why pilots were not exempt in the first place. They really do not need to carry anything to cause a catastrophe. They need to be screened for identity. 

  3. kumar1863
    November 21, 2010

    To my understanding we are at a good level when comes to passenger-screening methods except there will be some kind of improvements. These are again limited depends on the country, like US which is already on higher level. If we concentrate mainly on the cargo-screening methods it will be really helpful. If we come up with certain rules by which all countries will agree.  

  4. saranyatil
    November 22, 2010

    According to me travelling by plane is really a nightmare especially to undergo all the security checks if they are going to implement changes its definitely going to become a roler coaster ride for passengers. i think the focus should be 99% on cargo and rest for about 1%.

  5. tioluwa
    November 22, 2010

    Security can be expensive both monetary and otherwise. The discomfort and inconvenieces are the price we have to pay. Full body scan for me is a better alternative to being blown to pieces in a bomb blast.

    There maybe other alternatives.

    In a way i believe its the Humans that need more searching, not the Cargo. The worst threats have invloved people rather than Cargo.

    Pressur is mounting to stop the body scan and use Paddown, which is itself also considered very offensive.

    is there an easy way out?

    Reports today carried the story of a Cancer Survivor being total humilated by the padown, which will definately worsen the battle against TSA's methods.

    A website ( is planning a “national Opt out day” on the 24th agains the body scanning based on Cancer risks.

  6. Barbara Jorgensen
    November 22, 2010

    I actually have less of a problem with security than I do with delays and sitting on the tarmac. So far, the security folks at the airports I fly in and out of have been very professional. I have heard horror stories about the pat-downs, though, and that is a shame.

    Despite better security measures, people and packages containing explosives have still gotten on planes. As long as people are willing to kill themslves to take others with them, there will always be danger. To the credit of cargo carriers, they did discover the explosives before any damage was done. I wonder how many other near-misses we don't hear about. When these systems are working, you don't hear “in today's news, nothing happened at an airport.”

  7. Ms. Daisy
    November 22, 2010

    I totally agree with your attitude on the security measures at the various ports. All the hysteria on scanning seems to be over blown. If this technology is not put to use and God forbid we have another plane catastrophy, then it will be the governments' fault for not using technologies  are “more realiable” than humans. A simple choice is don't fly if you do not want to be inconvinienced.

  8. SP
    November 22, 2010

    The security on US international airports is really tight. I really admire them for being the way they are. If are traveling into and out of the US or even via US, be ready to keep good amount of time for security check ins. But sometimes its really inconvenient but you got to go with the flow in order to avoid bigger problems.

  9. eemom
    November 22, 2010

    Both Cargo and passaengers have to be screened.  I am NOT a fan of pat downs though.  A quick full body screen is the price we all have to pay for the added security.  We can't just screen the Cargo as 9/11 has taught us.  There are marters out there that are willing to do anything to hurt others.  As soon as we take our eye off the security, someone will sneak on board and we'll all wonder how come the government did not do more to protect our safety.

    None of this is meant to be comfortable or enjoyable, it is however, better than the alternative.

  10. bolaji ojo
    November 23, 2010

    Like many other travelers I get myself worked up righteously over the queue to get through security, bodyscan and patdowns until I get on the plane. Then it's all forgotten as I wait for the first drink. By the time I get to my arrival port the inconvenience is a faint memory to be added to cocktail stories. That's the way I want it because the other side of too little security and a nasty flight is a nightmare I don't want to experience. So, spare me the bodyscan if it can be dangerous for my health but pat down if you must TSA.

  11. Mydesign
    November 24, 2010

         Government and other related agencies are taking all the security measures to take care about the passenger safety & more over to avoid a disaster type of events. Even though they had taken all this type of measures, we had seen certain terrorist activities that are taken places very recently. Very recently i had a bad experience with one of the airport in Europe. After the luggage check in , I had proceeded for the body checking through a scanner, they found out a pointed metallic part in one of my pocket, Actually its a key chain having a pointed part, which can be used as a tooth pick or ear bud at necessary time. But that makes my journey troubled & late by 2 hrs. After 30 minutes of rigorous questioned by higher security officials, they allow me to continue the journey after moving all the keys from that key chain & left it with the security peoples. Here what i would like to point out is, innocents peoples are always under the scanner & those (terrorist) who want to do something intentionally are bypassing all this security measures.

  12. eemom
    November 24, 2010

    The ideal here is for TSA to find a way to bypass the frequent flyer like they finally agreed to bypass the Pilots.  Those business travelers that travel day in and day out, should somehow be exempt from the constant scanning and pat downs.  The TSA of-course will be concerned over profiling, but is it profiling to not scan people that travel a hundreds of thousands of miles per year or at least subject them to minimum security measures?

  13. Barbara Jorgensen
    November 30, 2010

    I was surprised over the Thanksgiving holiday that most reports from airports were “today, nothing happened here.” No protests, no awful lines, no YouTube or cell phone videos. Traveling is still hard and sometimes a nightmare, but people just want to get where they are going and, obviously, in one piece. I'm not sure the TSA's approach is the correct one and I get crazy when I'm delayed for some reason. But it looks like the process can work even during the4 busiest days of the year.

    I think the danger is we'll relax both cargo measures and passenger screening now that fears didn't materialize over the holiday.

    As for the idea of exempting frequent travelers from screening, I think that's a great idea. If travelers are given the option to do this, then it seems to me “profiling” is voluntary. Does that make is less offensive? I'm not sure about that…thoughts?

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