How to Stay Safe at the Airport

3 MINS READDec 19, 2017 | 09:00 GMT

Criminals are attracted to international airports, where crowds of travelers are relatively wealthy and powerful compared with crowds outside the airport. ...

Editor's Note

This infographic was created for Threat Lens, Stratfor's unique protective intelligence product. Designed with corporate security leaders in mind, Threat Lens enables industry professionals to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people and assets around the world. Given that many of our subscribers travel domestically or internationally during the festive season, we decided to share some insights from the Threat Lens team, with a view to staying safe over the holidays. They have this to say:  

Beyond being strategic national assets, major international hubs are hives of activity that create chokepoints for a city — and sometimes even for a nation or region — that relatively wealthy air travelers must pass through. Baghdad has one airport; Kuala Lumpur serves as a major international air hub for Malaysia; and London’s Heathrow airport turns over 76 million passengers annually through terminal space that adds up to little more than a quarter square mile.

Beyond their value as high-payoff targets for terrorist organizations...

...airport terminals are notorious spots for opportunistic criminal activity. The combination of distracted, jetlagged and sometimes intoxicated passengers arriving in new, unfamiliar places makes the landside of airports ideal grounds for petty crime. Just as advertisers and merchants know that international air travelers are a relatively well off, so do criminals. Pick-pockets, black taxis and a multitude of other scammers and hustlers base themselves at airports because some of the wealthiest clientele to visit any particular city are funneled through them. 

To mitigate the threat to individual travelers, our security professionals at Threat Lens have this to say: 

Mitigating the general array of risks at airports is similar to mitigating the terrorist threat: Minimize time on the landside of the airport, and have a plan (and contingency plans) for getting to and from the airport. International travel can be hectic, and processes at airports vary from country to country and city to city. Being prepared before you arrive and giving yourself plenty of time will minimize distractions and allow you to focus on your immediate surroundings. And once past the security layer, keep your guard up.

Airport security, especially in the West, is geared toward preventing major attacks, not necessarily stopping petty theft or cyber crimes. For those who have a high public profile or who are travelling with valuables, planning is even more necessary. Do not make yourself more visible than necessary, which might mean blending in with a sedan rather than travelling in a flashier vehicle likely to attract criminals. Use discretion when purchasing and moving high value items, such as art and jewelry, and consider using trusted agents to deliver valuables rather than moving them yourself. Anticipating threats in advance and watching for them in real time ultimately helps travelers lower their risk of being targeted.

We wish everyone safe travels over the festive period. 

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