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Many of the PITA elements of airport security are ineffective, offering a kind of "security theater" as a means of assuring passengers that thorough work is being done to ensure their safety. For example, body scanners don't work, terrorists can easily beat them, and Canadian authorities knew that before buying them.

Why Canadian airport security is exactly as useless and arbitrary as you think

“Rather than continuing to implement ever broader restrictions on law abiding passengers, governments would perhaps be better off devoting the resources necessary to focus on … human intelligence,” U.S. security consultant Daniel Wagner wrote in a March column.

Travelling without luggage. Buying a one-way airplane ticket at the last minute with cash. Being unable to answer basic questions about one’s travel itinerary. All of these can be potential “tells” for a properly trained security agent.

Behavioural profiling is favoured by the famously strict security at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

The airport dispenses with certain ineffective North American security staples like shoe removal and body scanners, instead favouring a system of in-person interviews designed to spot inconsistencies in a traveller’s story. If any arise, their bags can be subjected to item-by-items searches, including scrutiny of the photos on a traveller’s mobile phone.
 

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Can't help but agree that airport security doesn't really make sense to help stop something from happening but I have no idea what would make it even slightly better
 

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Can't help but agree that airport security doesn't really make sense to help stop something from happening but I have no idea what would make it even slightly better
Read the article linked above. Experts say that better methods for identifying people who might be a risk, instead of treating everyone as if they are a risk, can reduce airport security frustrations and time *and* improve the chances of nabbing someone with evil intent.
 

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I thought this was going to be about the guy that died at Calgary airport.
 

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One time flying out of Vancouver I had my carryon emptied & searched (Nothing in it that wasn't allowed--so whether they thought they saw something in the X-Ray or it was a random check, I don't know), yet one of the people I was travelling with had a jackknife in his jacket pocket (The jacket went through the X-Ray) and he made it through with it
 

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1) Security is ALWAYS about reducing probability, not about all-or-nothing. There are some forms of risk that can never be eliminated, but less of them is always better than the same amount or more. If someone told you the mortality rate for prostate cancer had be reduced from 90% to 75% (I'm making up numbers here), you would consider the research leading to that money well spent, even though people continue to die from prostate cancer. People need to make less of the exceptions, while ignoring what social cognition researchers call the "base rate". If something could have happened 10 million times, and happened 8 times out of 10 million, that's a pretty damn low likelihood of occurrence.

2) Authorities are nearly always persuaded by technological solutions, rather than human solutions, even though human solutions can often be better and more complete. Machines are viewed as more dependable and, to some extent, a one-time capital cost, compared to ongoing salaries for people. I am NOT saying I agree with this view, but it is how some folks think. The military/public-security trade shows where those who market technological solutions push hard and persuade decision-makers don't help.

3) Yes, a big part of many security procedures ARE "theatre", but given #1 above, theatre is important. If people don't think they will be safe, even if they are only being persuaded by the superficial, why would they take flights? And if air travel bookings drop, why would there be as many scheduled flights or airlines? Those people who are not intimidated by rare security breaches rely on that theatre to be able to provide them with convenient travel. Besides, theatre provides jobs. Personally, I don't see that as a complete and seamless argument, because making carfentanyl or automatic weapons also provides jobs and greater product availability. But for those folks whose life or livelihood depends on air travel, "theatre"is part of what makes it possible.

4) The Israeli/El Al solution is a good one. I don't know for sure, but suspect that it is also a feasible one because of the circumstances. AFAIK, Ben Gurion airport is not a transfer point, like Toronto, Salt Lake City, or Atlanta, but more of a starting or end-point. Their security procedures may have more latitude to be labour-intensive because of that. I was only at Heathrow once, but the sheer number of connections to be made between airlines was mindboggling. It struck me as being rather unfavourable to processing large numbers of passengers efficiently and still keeping things on schedule. One can see how authorities might find technological solutions to be their best option.

And one needs to admit that there is a bit of theatre in the Israeli approach, too. It's effective theatre, mind you, but still theatre in the way that it presents a perceived challenge and degree of uncertainty to anyone with malevolent intent.
 

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Having flown out of Ben Gurion before I would have to agree that their security measures are second to none. They ask a lot of questions and watch you very closely and think nothing of ripping apart your luggage in front of you. Stuff that would never be acceptable here because of the profiling aspect.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the NP article unfairly criticized Ben Gurion for the 1972 Japanese Red Army attack. It was Rome that let those guys get on a plane with their weapons - not Israel.
 
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