Matt's Blog

Heathrow bomb plot

Thu Aug 10 09:26:15 BST 2006

Things that you don't want to see in the news a couple of weeks before embarking on a 22 hour flight to Australia: ['Plot to blow up planes' foiled]. Currently you're not allowed any carry-on luggage apart from identity documents and wallets in clear plastic bags - hopefully this will not be the case when I fly out, since I don't think laptops like flying cargo (the screens don't like low pressure).

Hmm... my response to a bomb threat from the airport that I am due to fly out of in a couple of weeks is not "Oh noes!!!1! We're all going to die!!!1!", it is "Crap. Check-in is going to take hours, and my laptop might get killed in the cargo bay, plus I'll have nothing to read". Realistic response to the threat?

The news article says the plot was for 3 devices on planes going from UK to USA. Number of flights from Heathrow per day is about 1500 ([source]), so a uniform probability spread gives 1 in 500 chance of the plane that I am on having a bomb on it (ignoring the fact that attacks on UK and USA flights are more probable than Taiwanese airline that I am using). This seems fairly low, comparable to a bus crash on the way to the airport? No, still a few orders of magnitude higher than that.

Update: roughly an hour later the headline in the link above has been changed to 'Plot to blow up planes disrupted', and the number of devices increased to 10, number of suspects in custody increased from 18 to 21. 'Disrupted' is not quite as reassuring as 'foiled'.

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