Still threat level orange?
In case you haven’t flown recently the national alert level for airports is still “threat level orange.” This fact is repeated at airports across the United States inanely to remind passengers to be watchful for “suspicious activities.” The problem I am pointing out here is NOT that we remind people that there is a threat of terrorism. Rather, the problem is the “threat level orange.”
In theory the point of having the choice between green, blue, yellow, orange, or red is so that we can represent the degree of the threat level. However, changing the threat level carries such problems that since it was instituted it has almost never been used.
It is believed that lowering the threat level would simultaneously lower the attentiveness of travelers and encourage terrorists that it is now easier to attack planes. If the US gov. was ever to lower the security level and then a terrorist attack were to follow the public outcry would probably bring down a political party (I exaggerate but the political impact would be devastating). For this reason among many it is unlikely that any elected official will ever permit the threat level to be lowered, at least until terrorism is a thing of the past (which could take decades).
On the other hand raising the security level nationally would mostly assuredly scare off passengers. At the same time we already have another system in place for making specific warnings that does not require the “threat level” system. This act would cripple an already injured industry with no real upside, and thus again will never be used.
Thus annoying us all by telling us that we are STILL at threat level “orange” is really a waste of everyone’s tolerance for annoyance. I think it would be a very good idea to announce we were scrapping the system as “useless” and replace these messages with a more generic message. A message advising people to watch for suspicious behavior does not need an arbitrary threat level attached to it.