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Pilots..are you being watched?(from CNN)

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Well-known member
Dec 19, 2001
Airline groups alert pilots in Europe to be vigilant
July 4, 2002 Posted: 10:46 AM EDT (1446 GMT)

By Beth Lewandowski and Paul Courson

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Airline pilots flying for U.S. carriers have reported a feeling they're being "watched" or "followed" while in Europe by people with possible bad intent, pilots' union officials Thursday told CNN.

A spokeswoman for the Air Line Pilots Association said the anecdotes have not been substantiated. Anya Piazza confirmed Thursday that the reports have come from United Airlines and American Airlines pilots during layovers in Europe, and that their concerns were expressed to security executives and authorities.

In response, ALPA and airlines have distributed word to pilots to be vigilant.

An ALPA chapter representing Northwest Airlines, for example, Tuesday issued what is described on a Web site as a "Security Alert." The message describes how "some flight crews have reported being the subjects of obvious surveillance by Mid-Eastern looking males and females."

The message quotes those pilots as saying the people seem "to pay special attention to aircrew luggage and conversations."

But a spokesman for that chapter, Will Holman, Thursday told CNN the message was routine.

"What we put on our alert is that there's been some reports, a handful, from international flying crews from other airlines, not Northwest, that have expressed concern to management that they perceive they've been observed. We have not been able to substantiate, but felt it was our duty to inform our pilot groups that they've reported this."

The anecdotes sprang from incidents in London and in Amsterdam.

John Cox, safety chairman of ALPA's national headquarters, told CNN "these are continuing alerts that crews must be vigilant. This is a reminder to everyone, particularly international flight crews, that vigilance needs to be maintained."
So, what does vigilant mean? I admit that would be kinda creepy, but what do they hope to gain by watching people? I don't get it.
They may be trying to "learn the routine". If they want to steal uniforms and such, it makes sense to watch your potential victims. When they come and go, when the room will be empty, etc. Everyone knows that hotel rooms are about as secure as a 7-11 in a bad neighborhood. Even if you fly domestically, it's always a good idea to be aware of who is around you at all times.
I just got back from Boeing Field in Seattle, and I'll tell you, the area surrounding the airport isn't the nicest part of town. The hotel that I stayed at was decent, but I literally thought that my wife's Accord would be on blocks in the morning. I wouldn't go for a midnight stroll around there. I could be wrong, but it didn't look safe. Even around Sea-tac airport isn't that great.
This is part of the reason why they are trying to get a smart card implemented for pilots (besides easing jumpseat restrictions), and why they haven't allowed them (pilots) to bypass the screening checkpoints. Anyone could steal (or buy) a uniform and doctor an ID (and some have been stolen but they're not sure if it was terrorist related or not). Screeners can hardly pick out a pair of scissors on the x-ray, let alone distinguish if your ID is real.

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