I have been traveling a ridiculous amount as of late. And there can be no doubt that the increasing costs of airport security really bite. It certainly makes me appreciate the wonderful sanity of Australia. In the US, your boarding pass and identification need checking, you need to remove shoes and belts, you now need to remove everything from your pockets because of the full body scanners, those scanners take time etc etc. In Australia, you skip many of these steps including ones that are adding about 90 seconds per person. And remember that isn’t 90 seconds of extra cost per person, that is 2 minutes multiplied by the average number of people in a queue because we all wait for everyone’s extra 90 seconds. And we know how much better things are in Australia as security lines do not discriminate between priority and other passengers.
And it gets worse. First, as Dan Drezner and Megan McArdle (and here) rant today, it is not clear you are actually buying any more security for all this fuss. Second, there is a movement to boycott the scanners. But there is also a legal issue regarding the full body work-ups that you would need to replace them. Penn (of Penn & Teller) fame describes his experience and looks as he might pursue this in the courts. Another woman has a much more unpleasant encounter. And this terrible incident for a child surely takes the cake on insanity.
The question is whether there is any way out of this mess. The politics seem awful as no politician wants to argue for seemingly less security lest something happen.
But that suggests a natural way to go. My bet is that politicians in the US don’t have to go through these lines. Rather than a National Op-Out day or something like that surely the movement to have would be to require all politicians, prior to boarding a plane, to go through commercial airport terminal security. And not in the fast lane but the general lane. Call me crazy but I think we might soften their stance on this stuff pretty darn quickly.