Just mention the phrase airport security to a frequent flyer and images of crowded snakes of queues as far as the eye can see will be conjured up in their head. And as holiday season is in full swing, more of us will be experiencing this chaos. Governments have promised increased vigilance in airport security, but just how safe can we feel after we’ve passed through the scanners and metal detectors?

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Most of the rules these days seem pedantic and convoluted. With TSA restrictions constantly changing and getting more complicated, it’s worrying to think that the technology we have at checkpoints isn’t able to detect the difference between face cream and C-4.Public opinion of the TSA is at an all time low. Perhaps this is the reason why they recently enlisted the help of Disneyland designers to make the queueing process more appealing to travelers.

Yesterday, I returned from a sailing holiday in Scotland. I didn’t have any hand luggage and breezed through security in the priority lane. Only when I was waiting for my check-in baggage at London did I realise that I’d forgotten to put my knife into the hold luggage, and it had been in my coat pocket the whole time. If an X-ray machine (or its operator) can’t detect a clearly defined metal blade in a coat, the question begs about how safe we are.



In fact, a recent study showed that the most effective form of security was sniffer dogs. The TSA hasn’t successfully detected a single terrorist since its formation after 9/11, despite a workforce of over 47,000 and a bankroll of $1.1 trillion. However, perhaps security agents’ downfall are their most effective tool: their stubbornness and pedantry. These traits do well to deter terrorists, which could well be the reason we’ve seen such a reduced number of air-side terror attacks in recent years, as attacks seem to be moving more to the street.

Final thoughts

Don’t let this get you nervous. Commercial aviation still remains the safest form of travel (apart from elevators!) out there, and will continue to be. The question is whether waiting in line and being judged and patronised by screeners is the way to go about it.


Do you have any particularly bad security experiences? What are your views on the TSA?

Let us know down below!