The TSA is considering eliminating security at 34% of US airports. No, this isn’t clickbait. Let’s look at what’s apparently under consideration.
How the TSA is thinking of eliminating security at many US airports
CNN has obtained internal documents indicating that the Transportation Security Administration is considering eliminating security screening at about 150 of the nation’s 440 airports.
The intent here is to streamline the security process. Security screening would be cut at all small and many medium-size airports that serve aircraft with 60 or fewer seats.
According to this proposal, passengers traveling from smaller airports would have their belongings and luggage screened upon arrival rather than before departure. Presumably this would be similar to arriving on an international flight, where you have to exit the terminal and then go back through security to catch your connecting flight.
This proposal would impact about 10,000 passengers per day, which amounts to about 0.5% of the people who fly out of US airports every day. Those people are screened by 1,299 TSA employees, which represents a pretty bad ratio in terms of efficiency. So while this represents a small percentage of passengers, it would impact a much bigger percentage of airports.
The TSA says that bigger airports have a greater capacity and more advanced security measures than smaller airports, so passengers would be screened before any connecting flights. The TSA also says that this could save $115 million annually, which frankly doesn’t sound like that much to me when you consider that the federal air marshal program costs the government nearly a billion dollars annually.
The documents suggest that implementing this could bring a “small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity.” That’s the understatement of the year.
Sources suggest that this isn’t the first time this proposal is being discussed. Apparently it was also being discussed back in 2011, but was tabled, and now the idea is resurfacing.
What I make of this proposal
I’m in disbelief that this proposal is even being discussed.
Aviation continues to be a huge target for terrorism, and it’s not just a widebody jet between New York and London that’s the target.
If terrorists know that they can get on a 50 seat plane without any security checks, you can bet they’d plot some things, as the impact of this type of terrorism would be catastrophic. Seriously, it blows my mind that this is being discussed.
While I think this proposal is ridiculous, I think the much bigger issue is how incompetent the TSA is. In tests, the TSA continues to miss a vast majority of weapons that are brought through security. In the past they’d consistently miss 95% of prohibited items in tests. Recently they improved, and started only missing 80% of prohibited items
The TSA is little more than a security theater. In fairness, I think in some ways the theater works, and surely sometimes works as a deterrent. This move would even eliminate that theater.
What do you make of the TSA potentially eliminating security screening at 140 US airports?