Friday, February 26, 2010

Private Airport Security

Every time I fly, the urge to rant about airport security becomes irrepressible.

But what exactly is the alternative to the current system? Specifically, what would happen if airlines and airports could design and pay for their own systems? Here are some possibilities.

1. Trusted flyer programs. To join, you undergo an extensive initial security check. From then on, you just show a high-security ID at the airport and skip all the screening. (TSA has experimented with these, but they have been small scale so far.)

2. Flights that prohibit carry-on luggage. In exchange for being bored for a few hours, you get faster screening and a cheaper flight.

3. Expanded air marshal programs, with both uniformed and undercover marshals on every flight. Terrorists realize their chances of success are minuscule even if they get a weapon on a plane, so less screening is necessary.

I have no idea whether any of these would be cost-effective. But I would like to see what the private sector could figure out if it were free to innovate, and I bet it would work better, at lower cost, than what TSA does now.


Fady said...
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Fady said...

#1 won't work: All you need is 1 turncoat and the whole system comes apart. Can you image the flak if a properly cleared individual, beyond reproach up to this point, becomes a trusted flyer and then decides, for whatever reason, to hijack an airliner?

#2 won't work: seems the cure is worse than the disease. 20 minute delay vs. 4 hours of sheer boredom?

#3 I like that, maybe an armed uniformed guard per flight?

By the way, the private approach was tried at JFK for while with a company using retinal scan to identify trusted flyers. Program was junked for reasons #1 above.