NW 253: Has Northwest/Delta been complying with government regulations?

Former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has ten good questions about the security procedures that allowed the would-be Northwest 253 bomber to fly from Amsterdam to Detroit and, nearly, set off a bomb that would have destroyed the plane in the skies of southeast Michigan on Christmas Day. (I have a particular interest in that, having flown to Detroit on Christmas Eve.) Readers’ responses to Baker’s questions prompted him to ask an eleventh question: Did Northwest (or, rather, Delta, which has absorbed Northwest and is in the process of taking over its operations) comply with the AQQ program which requires that passport downloads collected by the airline be cleared with the Department of Homeland Security before the plane takes off and in time for the airline to remove suspect passengers from the plane?

Baker writes:

DHS made the AQQ requirement final more than a year ago, after a long testing period. But a number of US carriers have been stiffing DHS, refusing to comply with the regulation because, they say, they can't afford to upgrade their computer systems. They say they're waiting to see what upgrades they'll have to make for the TSA Secure Flight program, but I find it astonishing that a private regulated industry would simply declare that it won't comply with US law.

I have reason to suspect that Delta/Northwest was not complying. Some time during the last year, I was flying out of Detroit to Washington on a ticket issued by Delta and, having missed a connection, sought to take the next Northwest flight. That proved difficult to process through the Delta/Northwest computer system because, Northwest personnel informed me, Delta has a more primitive computer system than Northwest’s but has insisted that the merged airline run its computer operations out of Delta’s HQ in Atlanta rather than Northwest’s in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Now maybe I was being misled by aggrieved Northwest personnel (the Northwest pilots who flew halfway across Wisconsin were apparently consulting their personal laptops on scheduling issues arising from the Northwest/Delta merger). Or maybe the computer system the Northwest folks in Detroit were complaining about had nothing to do with the computer issues Stewart Baker spotlights. But I’m suspicious that Delta may be one of the airlines not cooperating with the AQQ requirement. If so, they should get unshirted hell, as Baker suggests.

Beltway ConfidentialUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The City has struggled to conduct outreach in some neighborhoods as it works to expand Slow Streets — such as this section of Page Street in the Lower Haight — to underserved neighborhoods. <ins>(Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
SFMTA delays vote on Bayview Slow Streets, approves five others in ‘underserved’ areas

SFMTA struggles to conduct outreach in neighborhoods with lower internet access

Stern Grove Festival organizers are planning to bring back the popular summer concert series — The Isley Brothers show in 2019 is pictured — with limited audience capacity. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)
Indoor shows won’t be flooding SF stages soon but Stern Grove might be back in June

While San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that live performances may resume… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto  (47) started on Opening Day against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 9, 2021. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants welcome fans back with strong performance by Cueto

By Ethan Kassel Special to S.F. Examiner ORACLE PARK — The first… Continue reading

James Harbor appears in court after he was arrested on charges in the July 4th shooting death of 6-year-old Jace Young on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Murder case heads to trial over killing of 6-year-old Jace Young

Hearing reveals new details in ‘horrific’ Fourth of July shooting

BART passengers may see more frequent service by this fall. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART service increases possible as soon as September

Proposal would double weekday, daytime trains and extend system operating hours

Most Read