Airport Security

John Gruber points to an article about the “‘Israelification’ of Airports”, talking about how Tel Aviv airport managed to increase its security without turning it into a major inconvenience for the 99.9999% of us who are flying and who aren’t terrorists.

Here’s something that stood out for me:

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

“Two benign questions. The questions aren’t important. The way people act when they answer them is,” Sela said.

“This is to see that you don’t have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious,” said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

“The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds,”

First, it’s fast — there’s almost no line. That’s because they’re not looking for liquids, they’re not looking at your shoes. They’re not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. “Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes … and that’s how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys.”

What I find most interesting is that while the security checkpoint to get into the gates at Dublin airport has gotten more convoluted – hey, buy a little bag to put your liquids in; take your shoes off; take your belt off; take your laptop out of your bag; bend over and cough please – the actual physical interaction with people before then has been reduced. Traveling with Aer Lingus or Ryanair, the question “Who packed your luggage” has been reduced down to a check-box on a computer screen. It’s a ridiculous carry-over from when we used to be checked in by people instead of computers. Isn’t the point of the question to have a real person gauge your response?