Most people accept that airport security checks are part of traveling. If you’ve ridden on a plane, you know that you will have to take off your shoes and belt. You will need to drink your fancy water. And anything electronic, like a computer or your phone, will go in a plastic tub. The idea is to catch terrorists before they can board a plane and prevent skyjackers from taking it over.
Is all this necessary at small airports?
Is all this security needed at small airports? If most of the planes are small commuter planes traveling from one city to another, such as Springfield, Missouri to Little Rock, Arkansas, it doesn’t seem likely that a terrorist will target them. The thought is that since these small planes have fewer than 60 passengers, and since they are mostly local travel, that TSA security can safely drop the extreme security routines for these small flights.
Is TSA security necessary at all?
Are security checks needed at every airport, and how good is it anyway? Recent stories show that most arrests are not because of the airport security, but because of good intelligence passed from agency to agency. For example, a bombing attempt on an Australian flight was stopped before the bad guys even got to the airport. An Israeli diplomat passed along some information that helped catch them. The shoe bomber, Richard Reid, was stopped because the flight attendant saw him trying to light a fuse coming out of his shoe. AbdulMutallab, the underwear bomber, managed to set off his bomb but lit himself on fire in the process. Four passengers caught him and put out the fire.
In each case, airport security detected nothing. Either Intelligence on the ground stopped them before the security check, or people on the plane stopped them after the terrorist had boarded.
The only real changes to airlines in response to 9/11 has been to make better doors between the cockpit and the rest of the plane. This makes it harder for terrorists to take over the plane while it is flying.
The Final Argument
Good intelligence and excellent policework prevent most local threats – not fancy security checks. The long lines at airports miss things like shoe bombs, bombs smuggled in underwear, or plastic firearms. It is possible that while TSA security has many good people who do their best to keep people safe, perhaps a better use of their time would be to look for information. They might be glad to give up checking long lines of people who would rather use that time to visit with family or friends or even to grab a bite to eat.