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April 10, 2004
The Reign of Spain Stayed Mainly Off The Plane

According to the Miami Herald (via Drudge), the Crown Prince of Spain and his fiance were furious at the prospect of going through airport-screening procedures at Miami International Airport and may turn their search into an diplomatic breach between Spain and the US:

Members of the prince's entourage called the required inspection of their private belongings an ''insult'' and ''humiliating'' -- sparking a diplomatic flap that has the United States and Spain on the brink of a protocol war. Crowning it off, Iberia Airlines, the prince's carrier of choice, is suggesting it might pull out of the airport, according to two sources close to the international incident. ...

''We're your allies!'' one member of the royal delegation shouted in Spanish to inspectors at a particularly tense moment.

But according to Lauren Stover, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration in Miami, the screeners were only doing their jobs. The mandates of the Department of Homeland Security following Sept. 11 require that all commercial airline passengers be screened -- even the princely ones.

In order to prepare for the transportation of diplomats through commercial flights, the State Department requires 72 hours notice to set up private security procedures. However, Prince Felipe's entourage only gave the US six hours notice of his flight, far too short to make the arrangements. Instead, the Prince and Letizia Ortiz, a well-known Spanish TV personality, had to go through the same screening given to all commercial passengers in the US -- and they felt insulted at being treated like commoners, a fact underscored by the tabloidish writing of Luisa Yanez, the Herald reporter.

The mayor of Miami, Alex Panelas, tripped over himself in his attempt to smooth the ruffled royal feathers and to save the Iberia Airlines concession to MIA:

Mayor Penelas, calling the brouhaha a ''lamentable situation,'' immediately sent a letter of apology to the the royal family and pointed out those doing the screening were federal employees. ''The facts I have received thus far indicate an apparent disregard for protocol and disrespect of His Highness and his delegation. . . . I have called upon our County Manager to conduct a complete investigation into this matter,'' Penelas wrote in a letter dated Thursday.

Excuse me, but no. Screeners immediately took the Prince and his group to a private lounge to conduct the screening, which certainly makes me think that they were treated as well as could be expected under the circumstances. As a TSA spokesperson noted, had something happened to that flight and they had just allowed the Spanish delegation to board without screening, then the Spaniards would be singing a different tune, and rightly so.

Security procedures exist to protect all travelers. If the Spaniards couldn't call ahead as required to set up the special screening, then they should have just allowed TSA to do their jobs as quickly as possible. After listening to the 9/11 Commission talk all week about the lack of security for this country, especially at airports, the last person with whom I'll sympathize is a spoiled Spanish brat who couldn't follow procedures and feels himself above the rules.

Let Iberia pull out of Miami. I'm certain Delta, United, or American would be happy to pick up their routes.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 10, 2004 5:18 PM

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Tracked on April 11, 2004 11:31 PM

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