Aviation Security and Its Impact on Airports Introduction That millions of people travel from country to country via air travel cannot be denied, nor can it be disputed that air travel is fast becoming the only way to get around the world – in fact, the United States alone has over 639 million passengers passing through its airports annually (US Department of Transportation, 2001)…
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This particular fact is even less arguable than the first two, and has in fact become common knowledge. It is precisely because of this that every airport, without exception, will have more than a few shops and establishments operating there, hoping to make money off the many inbound and outbound passengers – so much so that some airports could easily be mistaken for full-blown shopping malls. Fastfood chains are also omnipresent in airports for those who wish to grab a bite before or after a long flight, not to mention travel agents for those who wish to avail of tours and other travel packages. However, there are also those who would use such knowledge to achieve much more sinister ends, such as al-Qaeda who precipitated 9/11 by slamming airliners into the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon. An even more recent example is what happened in August 2006, where airports all over the United States, United Kingdom and Canada had to beef up security due to imminent bomb threats – especially notable for being the first time the US Terror Alert Level had ever been raised to ‘red’ (Barrot, 2006). Without a doubt, then, airport management has the responsibility of ensuring the safety of their arriving as well as departing passengers. It was in fact the aforementioned incident that led to airports the world over stepping up their security measures permanently. While airport security could hardly have been called lax since 9/11 (Transport Security Administration, 2011), the most recent update to airport security has included a more thorough body check that includes the crotch – an addition that has seen fierce debate on whether to prioritize safety or privacy of passengers. This being the case, this paper aims to examine the very concept of airport security, from the simplest possible definition to the currently existing security measures. All in all, the intent is to reflect whether the current security measures are adequate, whether they are lacking, or whether they are a bit excessive, and then from there, to make suggestions on what can still be improved. Airport Security – An Overview Belger (2001) of the US Federal Aviation Administration defines airport and aviation security as a set of techniques and methods employed to safeguard aircrafts and airport, passengers and crew against crime, as well as to support national security and counterterrorism policies. Inbound and outbound passengers, regardless of reputation or stature, are subject to a thorough search for weapons, drugs, explosives and other contraband in order to make flights as safe as possible (Schneier, 2004). Not even well-known public figures are exempt from this SOP, as evidenced from how even Senator Al Gore himself went through such a stringent inspection. As detailed on the website of the Transportation Security Administration (2011), over 700 security checkpoints and over 7,000 baggage checking areas exist all over America’s checkpoints today. Each day, in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security Technology Research Lab (TSA, 2011) new technologies and procedures are being tried and tested in order to maximize the efficiency of security checks with the intent of ensuring utmost safety and security for traveling passengers. An estimated 43,000 Transportation Se
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