With the termination of the war against Iraq, the threat of terrorist activity to “avenge” American interference in the Gulf region is becoming an increasing concern for American businesses. The airline industry is one of the most frequent targets of terrorism; unfortunately, it is impossible for many businesses to restrict or halt all travel. If you must travel, especially out of the U.S., here are few tips to mitigate your risks both while travelling and staying in a foreign country.
1. Avoid superfluous items with your carry-on luggage
- excess credit cards
- police/military ID
- letters and documents
- products marked with your organization’s logo
- expensive or religious jewelry
2. Depending on your situation, you may want to bring
- a photocopy of your passport, tickets, and other essential information
- a list of your credit card numbers and loss notification numbers
- enough required medication to account for delays
3. Travel with secure luggage
- use hard, locked, non-descript luggage
- use closed-faced luggage tags
- keep essential items with your carry-on bag in case of lost luggage
- try to travel off of peak hours, when large numbers of people won’t be congregated in one area
- reconfirm your flight several days in advance and arrive at the airport early
- move immediately through the security check area to the departure gate or airline club
- wait near a protective barrier and structural support column or wall, away from expanses of glass, garbage cans, luggage lockers, telephones, ticket booths, and vendor’s carts, where bombs may be hidden
- note the emergency exits
On the Airplane
- select a window seat near an exit, toward the back
- check under your seat for left luggage
- don’t give any personal information to fellow passengers
- count the number of rows to the exits and note how to operate them so that you would be able to escape in the dark or smoke
- ask anyone meeting you to be inconspicuous
- know who will be meeting you, their name and appearance. Call to confirm any changes.
- If you will be staying for more than two days, register with the consulate.
- ask for a room off the ground floor, but not so high as to prevent escape in case of fire
- check your exit options, count the number of doors to the nearest exit, and learn how to operate the escape systems
- when leaving the room, leave on a radio or TV to give the appearance that you are in
- do not leave your key at the front desk
- do not leave valuables or important information (such as your itinerary) in the room.
While You Are Away
- stay alert and aware of your surroundings; keep an eye on belongings and your hand on valuables
- do not pay with large bills or count currency in public
- know the locations of nearby police stations, embassies, or military barracks
- stay away from crowds and walk away from any disturbances
- learn how to operate the telephone and carry enough coins or tokens to use a pay phone
- always carry your passport (a legal requirement in many countries) and guard against pickpockets
- carry the phone numbers of emergency contacts--your host, organization, and embassy
- keep your distance from the curb
Margo Young is a staff writer for the Disaster Recovery Journal.
This article adapted from Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 62.