You would think that after the September 11 terrorist attacks, America would make airline security a top priority to ensure the safety of people traveling by air. Yes, many security protocols have been implemented and, in many ways, Americans have accepted the fact that heightened airport security and a longer screening process are deemed necessary to prevent and deter another attack.
One minor detail was left out of the “safety net” which many consider to be a deadly loophole in airport security. It turns out that the vast majority of airport employees with direct access to the tarmac and airplanes do not go through any daily security screenings. Yes, that’s correct. The same people who search you and your belongings with a fine tooth comb don’t go through any screening whatsoever.
In fact, there are only two major airports (Miami International Airport and Orlando International Airport) that require all employees with secure access to pass through metal detectors as they report to work.
Why aren’t airport employees screened?
There is no federal requirement that the baggage handlers, mechanics, cleaning crews and other employees with access to the airfield and other secure areas get screened as passengers do. They are typically subject to a criminal background check and might get randomly screened while at work. By contrast, those who work at the gates, such as restaurant employees, pass through TSA security checkpoints.
“TSA is implementing or considering a range of measures, including additional requirements for employee screening; conducting additional, randomized security countermeasures at employee access points; and introducing additional security patrols by TSA teams of law enforcement and screening professionals to specifically address these concerns. Additionally, TSA has created a working group with representation from airport security partners to further develop plans for improving security.”
The TSA identified workers with access to secure areas of airports as one of the greatest potential threats to aviation, according to a 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office.
The report said costs for full screening of airport and airline employees could range from $5.7 billion to $14.9 billion for the first year of implementation. The entire TSA budget for 2015 is $7.3 billion.
With so much money being allocated to airport security, it remains a mystery as to why our government officials would not make it mandatory for everyone to be screened.
Have we not learned from past mistakes? Will it take another attack to make officials see that this “security loophole” puts everyone at risk? You don’t have to be a security expert to know that security screenings are key to airport safety. Airport employees should be held to the same standards and screening as regular passengers.
“In my experience, budget driven security will always fail.”
~ Jack Manza