Preface: I think airport security is a joke, borderline oxymoronic.
Do the two Chicago airports (Midway and O'Hare) have the worst airport security in the United States? I think there is a good chance the answer is yes. Let me tell you why.
Over the past couple years the amount I fly has been gradually increasing (I wish I could take the train more, but that's another story). Despite living in Milwaukee, it is hundreds of dollars cheaper to fly out of nearby Chicago and costs me only 3 dollars to get to Chicago (Megabus
+ L Train
). This increasing amount of flying has led me to have many opportunities to experience all kinds of airport security personnel and all kinds of airport security setups. Why the TSA regulates airport security and airports don't all have the same security setup, I will never comprehend.
When I leave Chicago to go wherever (wherever recently being Denver, Providence, Washington D.C., Montreal, Seattle) I almost never have a problem. If I do have a problem it's that I forgot to take off my belt and the metal detector is freaking out.
When I come back I almost always have problems.
I have two situations I want to look at closely. My trip to Providence and my trip to Montreal (a connection to Frankfurt, Germany).
On my way to Providence, I had no problems what-so-ever with airport security. I don't check bags, so I had all my clothes with me, my toiletry bag, and my bag of 3 ounces or less liquids. Chicago? No problem. Providence? Pulled aside by the security. What was the problem?
I had a finger-nail clipper in my toiletry bag both ways, Chicago security didn't catch it, Providence did. I told them I flew out of Chicago with it no problem, they told me I was lying.
Chicago security clearly failed to detect my finger-nail clipper. Not the biggest of a weapon, not the biggest of a deal.
My flight to Montreal was another story. I had checked bags this time, but still had my toiletry bag with me, along with my laptop, camera, PDA, and all the chargers (I travel with a small office in my backpack).
Chicago, as you can expect, was no problem.
Montreal was another story. Upon trying to board my connecting flight to Frankfurt, Germany they yanked me aside into a private room. From there they started to yell at each other in French, of which none of I understood. Having no idea what was wrong, since I had just gone through airport security three hours earlier, I was quite scared at this point. Had I done something to anger the Canadians? Did they not like my Chicago Blackhawks jersey?
Turns out, I had forgot to clean out my toiletry bag. I had a pair of scissors with a three-inch blade and two finger-nail clippers (I've been forced to give up more of these things in the past year than I care to remember).
Did Chicago airport security fail badly? Yes. I can say without a doubt that they should have caught that stuff.
I'm not alone in these occurances either, Freakonomics author Steven Levitt has found some holes in Chicago airport security
What's my point though? That airport security is a flawed process. You can't claim to secure the skies by imposing a three ounce limit on liquids and claiming to have working metal detectors. Airline security is a comprehensive, international process that needs to be rethought from the ground-up.
If someone wanted to take down a plane right now, or recreate 9/11 they could. You can't honestly believe airline security is actually well, secure.
I've struggled to find two security setups in two different cities in the United States that look the same. They're all under federal regulation, how can they not be the same? Don't these people know which method works better? The super-secure Washington D.C. setup makes it appear that they think only planes leaving Washington D.C. would be hijacked, and that one from Chicago is hijacker.-free
That said, I don't actually believe airline security is a huge issue. I think the government is better off spending their money elsewhere, say on education or infrastructure. Make cabin entrance into the cockpit impossible and you'll eliminate a lot of your problems.
If the TSA and airlines want to actually have "security" they need to rethink their entire model. Right now they're just peddling in the world of fear, smoke, and mirrors.
What do you think?