Aviation security is sometimes criticised as being too reactive, often adjusting after an incident by introducing new ‘layers’, without necessarily reviewing or adjusting the existing measures. These changes to security following an incident, while designed to ‘prevent this ever happening again’ are often characterised by solutions that increase the stress, hassle and inconvenience for passengers, which has led, in recent years, to deep-seated antipathy towards airport security from the general public.

The addition of more and more measures, such as the requirement to remove shoes following the Richard Reid attack, the need to limit liquids to 100ml following the attempted liquids bomb plot and the introduction of body scanners in response to the unsuccessful underpants bomber, has also resulted in sharp increases in the running costs of security and checkpoints struggling to maintain acceptable service levels and minimum queue times.

The impact of these changes is unfortunately having an increasingly negative effect on the public and the benefits of airport security are often not recognised, understood or appreciated, with security cited as one reason for travellers turning to other forms of transport for short to medium length journeys, where there is not the ‘hassle of security’. For long distance travel, security has ironically become regarded as a ‘necessary evil’ by passengers, tolerated at best, despite its role in countering the real evil to aviation and ensuring a safe flight for all.

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