Denver airport is known for unmatched security wait times. One thousand American Airlines passengers missed flights at just one airport – Chicago O’Hare – in just one month (March) due to long security wait times.
Atlanta airport was so frustrated that they threatened to privatize. Now Atlanta is closing down the South security checkpoint for renovations and the TSA plans to turn over some of the process to Delta there.
Now Scott Mayerowitz covers a campaign by lobbying group Airlines for America to get passengers to shame the TSA over wait times.
Airlines for America, the industry’s trade group, just launched a website called iHateTheWait.com , encouraging fliers to post photos of the lines on Twitter and Instagram along with the hashtag #iHateTheWait. Presumably this will make Congress more aware of the problem — and let fellow travelers know what they’re in for when they get to the airport.
The group’s spokeswoman Jean Medina, said the campaign is “raising awareness of the issue and serving as crowd-sourced (wait time) information.”
It’s rich, though, for US airlines to complain about the TSA now when they’ve been enthusiastic supporters of the government’s security theater and restrictions on civil liberties for years.
- The government requirement that we show ID, that travelers match itineraries, supports the airline’s revenue management and price discrimination programs.
- Airlines didn’t object on behalf of passengers to naked imaging, even no longer in use backscatter imaging machines whose radiation levels may have been unsafe.
- Airlines didn’t object to full data sharing with the government. Or profiling of passengers. Airlines didn’t support measures that the TSA wanted that would have made screening more efficient, like no longer looking for golf clubs and looking for bombs instead. Carry on clubs remain banned.
Playmobil Security Playset
Airlines for America has opposed increases in security taxes but they want more security spending. (In fairness the administration’s current call for even higher security taxes really funds other priorities and not security while using the rhetoric of fear of terrorism to push the agenda.)
Airlines could be advocates for real security reforms. The problem isn’t that more than $7 billion a year and 50,000 employees is insufficient.
The TSA has failed to meaningfully detect dangerous items going through the checkpoint for years. Their 95% failure rate is hardly new, ten years ago it was a 91% failure rate. That’s unacceptable. We don’t need — and couldn’t possibly have — perfect security. We just need to have reasonably good detection. Instead detection rates are likely worse than before the federalization of security.
TSA Agents in Charlotte Watch News of the TSA’s Failure to Detect Weapons and Bombs, Instead of Searching for Weapons and Bombs (HT: Tocqueville)
A year ago the TSA said their response to public shaming would be to make screening take longer. And the airlines were silent.
Basic screening, combined with reinforced cockpit doors and passengers unwilling to remain docile in the event of a takeover of a commercial airliner, and a repeat of 9/11 is simply unlikely. The TSA has never caught a terrorist, but there aren’t that many terrorists out to give up their lives taking down planes in the U.S. And terrorism is hard.
Long security lines, though, create easy targets. I wrote about that phenomenon in a long form article in Doublethink in December 2001. Meanwhile increasing time and cost of air travel pushes more travelers to the roads which are less safe, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘statistical murder’.
A social media campaign designed to put more resources into a failed government agency at general taxpayer expense is the opposite of what’s needed. The airlines – who really should know better – ought to get behind real security reform, not push for more security theater. It’s no surprise, however, which side they’re on.