How to Design Impenetrable Airport Security

How to Design Impenetrable Airport Security


This video was made possible by Blue Apron. The first 100 people to sign up at the link
in the description will get $50 off their first two weeks of Blue Apron. In 2015, a bombshell report came out detailing
how the TSA, the agency responsible for airport security in the US, missed 95% of drugs, explosives,
weapons, and other prohibited items sent through their scanners in a test. In 2016, the test was repeated with the same
result. The following year, 2017, the test was repeated
again with an improved success rate, but still, it let 70% of prohibited items through. In fact, within the US, there’s no evidence
that the TSA has ever prevented a terrorist attack and outside the US, there are very
few examples of physical airport security thwarting an attack. Airport security slows people down, increases
cost, and yet does little to actually improve safety so it’s safe to say that airport
security is broken, but why? Since the purpose of aviation is to get from
one place to another, it’s tough for a single country to regulate the industry. Instead, the International Civil Aviation
Organization, a United Nations agency, does. All but two UN member countries, Liechtenstein
and Dominica, are part of the ICAO so its regulations are more or less universal. They’re the ones responsible for making
sure that air transport works the same way all around the world, but what they require
for airport security is rather inconcrete. They simply say, “measures need to be established
to prevent weapons, explosives or any other dangerous devices, articles or substances,
which may be used to commit an act of unlawful interference, the carriage and bearing of
which is not authorized, from being introduced, by any means whatsoever, on board an aircraft
engaged in civil aviation.” Essentially, all they require is that before
a passenger gets onboard a plane, the airport assures they don’t have weapons. While the ICAO does determine whether this
requirement has been fulfilled, it’s up to each country to decide how they achieve
that. In the US, airport security works like this. After check-in, a passenger first goes to
have their documents checked, puts their bags through an x-ray scanner, and walks through
either a metal detector or millimeter wave scanner. There are potentially additional steps such
as a pat-down or explosives residue test for some, but these three steps are how the process
works for most. It is though, important to note that, if you
so choose, you can skip the metal detector or millimeter wave scanner step of the process
and receive a pat-down instead. This is fully compliant with ICAO regulations
since it does effectively screen an individual for weapons. In fact, an airport could hypothetically be
compliant with ICAO regulations only by conducting physical bag-searches and pat-downs since
this does screen for weapons even if this would be slow, invasive, and unpopular. Some small airports actually do this for bags—they
physically search them instead of passing them through an x-ray. The words “security theater” are thrown
around a lot in regards to US airport security. This term is used pejoratively—it means
that the TSA’s function is only to make airports look secure, but here’s the thing—on
paper, the TSA has done its job. There has not been a single death on a flight
leaving from a US airport since 9/11 as a result of terrorism. In fact, in the same time period, there has
not even been a single attempted terrorist attack on a flight leaving from a US airport—all
have been on flights originating from abroad. So maybe the TSA is doing its function. Maybe the mere threat of being caught has
been enough to thwart terrorists or maybe terrorists have moved on from attacking airplanes. The US is certainly a prime target for terrorism,
but there are more controversial nations. Israeli airport security is considered to
be the best in the world. Despite being situated in one of the most
politically contentious countries in the world, no airplane leaving from Tel Aviv’s Ben
Gurion airport has ever been hijacked or bombed. It’s been attempted, but this airport’s
security is simply nearly impenetrable. What’s most fascinating is that this airport
is hardly using any super-advanced technology—they use the exact same metal detectors as the
US and Europe—but they’ve focused on the human factor. Israel has come to realize that its unfortunately
easy to get weapons through airport security. Plastic explosives, non-metallic knives, and
blunt weapons are just tough to detect so rather than focusing on the weapons that could
be used for an attack, they focus on the people who could use them. At Ben Gurion airport, security starts before
passengers even get to the airport. Cars pass through a security checkpoint a
mile away from the airport entrance where guards inspect cars and look for any suspicious
looking individuals. The minute passengers arrive at the airport,
they’re being watched already. Highly trained plainclothes officers roam
around in the check-in area again searching for individuals acting abnormally or nervous. Then, before passengers are even allowed to
check-in, there’s the interview. Anyone who’s passed through Ben Gurion airport
knows how intense this interview is but its likely the single greatest factor leading
to the safety of Israeli airports. Passengers are first asked standard questions
like what their jobs are, why they came to Israel, how long they stayed for, if they
packed their own bags and all the while, the security agent watches the passengers face
for reactions. They’ll also probe deeper—asking why the
passenger has been to various countries stamped in their passport. They’ll then ask oddly specific questions—which
school they went to, when they last moved, what kind of car they have. These are all to see if the passenger is being
honest about who they are. If the security officer senses hesitation
or finds a hole in their story, they could deem the passenger a higher risk. Once passengers have completed their interview,
a barcode is placed on the back of their passport that starts with a number from one to six. If it starts with a one, the passenger is
deemed a very low risk—this is almost only given to Israeli citizens—while if it starts
with six, the passenger is deemed a very high risk and will be subjected to extremely thorough
screening. While a lot of the risk determination has
to do with the interview, profiling also plays into it. According to the Israeli security system,
passengers are deemed higher risk if they are male, if they are traveling alone, if
they are young, and most of all, if they are Arab. Israel unapologetically uses racial profiling
in their risk assessment which has led to international condemnation. Israel, meanwhile, argues that this technique
is effective. After all, the country has recently been at
war with many of its Arabian neighbors. At the same time, though, its almost impossible
for an Arab traveller to pass through Ben Gurion airport without getting deemed a number
six security risk. Western non-Israeli individuals are also generally
considered to be a higher security risk typically receiving a four or a five. After the interview, passengers are finally
allowed to check-in. Their checked bags are put through a standard
x-ray and then are placed in a pressure chamber. The chamber’s pressure is lowered to the
level of a pressurized aircraft, about the equivalent of six to eight thousand feet of
altitude to set off any explosives designed to trigger when a plane’s cabin pressure
is lower at cruising altitude. Meanwhile, the passenger passes through a
standard x-ray or body scanner. For the majority of passengers, this physical
screening process is exactly the same as it would be in North America, Europe, or Asia—they
just walk through the scanners and grab their bags. Those deemed a higher security risk—above
three or four—likely would have their bags manually searched and then the highest risk
individuals—five or sixes—are often taken aside for another round of questioning and
a pat-down. The security doesn’t even stop once passengers
board the plane. Like the US, Israel has a system of air marshals—armed
security guards on planes—but unlike the US, at least in the case of El Al, Israel’s
national airline, there are air marshals on every single flight. They sit among the passengers, often near
any that were identified at the airport as high risk, and they have alert buttons that
communicate with the pilots in case of an attempted hijacking. If the marshals press this button, an alarm
will go off in the cockpit and the pilots will often send the plane into a dive to knock
the hijacker off their feet. This technique has successfully prevented
terror attacks in the past. These air marshals secure the plane from the
inside, but another system protects the outside. El Al’s planes are installed with thermal
flares that deploy when a radar detects an incoming missile. Thermal guided missiles will then target the
flares instead of the plane. El Al and the other Israeli airlines also
stay secure by having security officers at their destination airports. For departing passengers to Israel, they repeat
much of same security process as at Ben Gurion Airport—conducting interviews, profiling,
and assessing the risk of each passenger. At many foreign airports, these agents also
physically screen luggage before handing it off to the regular airport security. El Al, despite being the flag carrier of one
of the most controversial nations in the world, had its last and only hijacking in 1968 and
even this incident resulted in zero deaths. It and the Ben Gurion airport are testaments
to the fact that truly secure security is theoretically possible, but is it possible
worldwide? Here’s the thing about Tel Aviv’s airport—its
not that big. 20 million passengers pass through it each
year making it only as busy as San Diego or Berlin airport. These are not small airports, but they’re
not on the same scale as the world’s largest like JFK, Heathrow, or Dubai. It’s tough to determine if a system like
what Israel has implemented could scale up to be used universally. What’s sure is that certain elements of
the Israeli system would not work—most countries could not justify a system that relies so
heavily on racial profiling. In many countries and US states, practices
such as this are simply illegal, but still, airports and countries around the world are
watching Israeli security methods closely. The US has already implemented a system of
security interviews for many international flights to the US however these are generally
conducted by less trained contract workers. Brussels airport, after its terrorist bombing
in 2016, now positions officers trained in behavioral detection at its entrances. Plenty of other airports have sent delegates
to Ben Gurion airport to evaluate their security techniques as well and have quietly made changes
to closer emulate Israel. But few ever stop to question if we even want
an increase in airport security. If it comes at the expense of time, maybe
we don’t. As mentioned, the US has not had a successful
terror attack on an airplane since 9/11. Worldwide, airplane hijackings are now almost
nonexistent, but security has a consequence. In the most direct way, tickets for every
single flight leaving from a US airport include a $5.60 fee that goes towards paying for security. This may n ot be much in the scope of a multi-hundred
dollar flight to Europe or Asia, but if the US ever wants to get to the point where Europe
is of having $10 or $20 budget airline tickets between domestic destinations, this fee has
to go. A study found that the TSA’s average cost
per life saved—how much money it spends to stop one human death—is $667 million. You can certainly say that you can’t put
a price on a human life, but the security that saves these lives costs lives. The plane is empirically the safest way to
travel—its hundreds or thousands of times safer than driving—so stopping people from
flying is in and of itself deadly. Economists found that the increase in airport
security in the US post 9/11 can account for 6% of the decline in air travel. Given that, in 2002, more than 500 people
died because, as a result of longer security times and more extensive searches, they chose
to drive over fly and were involved in a fatal accident. Flying being easy helps everyone—it lets
people travel faster and it helps airlines as businesses, just as long as it doesn’t
result in a decrease in safety. In Israel, passengers arrive three hours before
their flights just to clear security which means plane travel is inefficient while in
some places in Europe, airports encourage travelers to arrive a mere hour before their
flight. The goal is to keep security fast, efficient,
but also secure. No country or airport has the perfect system
but to achieve this, one likely needs to combine elements of the strictest security systems
with those of the fastest. Israel can get away with invasive, unethical,
yet effective security measures because they need to. They are a country seemingly constantly at
war. Many other areas of the world just aren’t
big targets for terrorists, though. Its hard to know whether or not security measures
are effective. There’s no control group of developed countries
that don’t have airport security to compare to. The most effective security systems stop attacks
by the mere threat of consequences rather than through physical screening so maybe airport
security works. In the US and Europe and Asia and all the
other developed, safe areas of the world, one must therefore ask whether airport security
is actually saving lives or ending them. If you’ve been watching this channel for
a while you know about Blue Apron. I’m someone who hates to waste time which
is part of the reason I love Blue Apron. With Blue Apron, you receive a box full of
pre-apportioned ingredients and recipes which you use to make fresh, delicious meals in
40 minutes or less. You skip all the boring parts like grocery
shopping and measuring and get right to the great parts of cooking—actually cooking
and eating. I’ve found with all the Blue Apron meals
I’ve had that they’re all unique recipes that I would never have thought of making
myself although, I’ve also never had a Blue Apron meal I didn’t like since before you
receive your meal each week you can select which ones you want online. I’m confident really anyone will like Blue
Apron and they are too so they’re offering the first 100 people who sign up at the link
in the description $50 off their first two weeks. They make this show possible and also genuinely
make a good product so once again, make sure to at least check them out at the link in
the description. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you again
in three weeks for another Wendover Productions video.

100 Replies to “How to Design Impenetrable Airport Security”

  1. I hope you enjoy this new video! If you didn't see already, I started a personal channel and the good news is that the second every video on there goes up Thursday and it features Mike Boyd so go subscribe to that here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDA1X6RrhzZQOHOGvC3KsWg

  2. I think now Orlando airport has this guard dog that smells your stuff then go through tsa and has you put everything in your bag and keep your shoes on but take all the stuff from your pockets out to then go through the metal detector and if it finds anything then you go to a tube than spins around you while your hands are in the air and to then you finally go to the monorail to your gate.

  3. Last year, Amsterdam to Detroit DELTA flight ( on the way to Caribbean ) we were very surprised ( flew many times via USA airports to Caribbean ) that after check in, security check, being airside…… there was another security check just for our flight….flight to USA. Just next to our flight gate. 10- 15 tables with guys asking questions before you board the plane flying to USA. I just don't know if 'our' guy was stupid or smart. Asking same questions over and over again. It was just ridiculous.

  4. my brother had an explosives screening in San Diego airport because they thought the eclair in his pocket was a bomb.

  5. Wendower: Plane travel is the safest way to travel so they should be more accessible.
    Also Wendower: Plane travel costs are high.

    Tax payers' money: Am I a joke to you?

  6. I got 1 on my barcode at ben gurion but then again was going home from a birthright trip and was able to read hebrew and name my rabbi in my interview

  7. Domestic/Schengen Flight in Europe without checked baggage makes it possible to arrive at the airport 5 minutes before boarding starts.

  8. Just came from Israel and went to go check the sticker on my passport after watching this. I got a 1 as an American male traveling in a group. Also they found a butter knife that I forgot I had in a side pocket.

  9. Its not racist to be more cautious about arabs, males, etc. Its statistics. If, for example, 50% off all terrorist attacks are done by arabs then it makes sense to search them more than a pregnant lady. We need to be efficient, not worry about offending somebody, especially if it involves security and saving peoples lives

  10. When i was a kid, aiport security in Paris took my fake plastic gun, i guess i was part of the 5% but it convinced me that they weren't that bad at detecting stuff.

  11. I have actually brought a large machete on board an aeroplane once. Travelling from Gold Coast to Sydney (Australia). It was in my bag from hiking. They didn't see it when I was flying down, but on my return trip the same day flying back up they caught it. I just had to discard it once it was discovered.

  12. Well when you have Arab neighbors that would like nothing more than the destruction of Israel, your last worry is ridicule from some blue haired SWJ from a first world nation with no threats other than mean words and RASIZT NAZI PIGS

  13. I once got a box cutter by accident onboard and no one knew (even me) I just realised it once I got to my destination.

  14. The answer is simple!
    Encase them in bedrock and search them for an hour. if they have weapons, throw em in a room full of babies in a flight simulator

  15. I was in israel 2 months ago. Yeah, the security is HELLA strict. They question you and then give you a visa if they like how you answered the questions. Getting in the country was easy, buuut, ohh man, getting out was a pain in the ass. Took me 3 hours just to get to my gate and at least 4 times I was question out of nowhere by men and women because if they see someone travelling alone, they always watch every step you take

  16. Hate how airport employees especially ones with a higher degree of background check and higher badges, like myself, who sees the same TSA agents day in and day out have to get “randomly selected” 9/10 times

  17. I remember an interview that talked about Israeli security measures. When asked how they earned such a great record at preventing hijackings, they said, "We don't look for weapons. We look for terrorists."

  18. I had to stop the video at 6:05 and go find my passport. I had no idea that's what the barcode meant. I had a 5 as the first number! I remember being searched WAY more than necessary the last time I flew through Ben Gurian airport. Thanks for the update. Now I can at least be prepared next time.

  19. Race is such a big part of who a person is, everyone knows that, EVERYONE, which funny is those who claim to be against it usually are the most racist, instead of admitting reality they will just call you a racist and a sexist, only based on the fact you are a white male.

  20. Israel has been bullied by all of its neighbors for DECADES. it deserves to use racial profiling because literally their own neighbors are racist and hate them.

  21. i have been to israel, i never even noticed the code on the back of my passport. i got a 1 btw, they did ask some of the questions but as soon as they noticed that i was just a regular tourist, they let me go. the bag check took a bit longer but honestly i never knew that it was such a safe system. besides the armed police officers everywhere in israel, you felt very safe. heathrow was definitely a worse experience lol

  22. israel is not in war, they only decided to invade an unarmed country 60 years ago. And why terrorists doesnt attack israel…because they dont bit the hand that feed them

  23. I’ve been to Ben gurion airport many times and for me and my family it was easy probably because we are Jewish citizens but still I dont think we were ever interviewed

  24. so the us airports have been testet. and the tsa failure rate came up at around 70 – 95 % you then went on to say israels airports are airtight in comparison. but what are their numbers? have they been tested? just because they didn´t have a major terrorist incident might have nothing to do at all with their airport security.
    just because the us major incident had to do with airport security doesn´t mean much since it´s a single data point. the next one might be bombing a stadium and bomb components can be aquired in the us. also military style assault weapons seem to be given out as freebie in cornflakes over there

  25. TSA is useless. do you see tha fatties that works as TSA agents? they get tired by lifting one of their hands. plus that 95% fail rate. jesus christ, if Terrorists are a real thing USA would be fucked. luckily the secret service is done with inside jobs….. for now.

  26. People think Israel is a chaos place but the fact is these people KNOW THEIR WORK and as a result Israel is became one of the safest places for tourists, and also the people there is very chill, nice and have an amazing English… (and yes the women are gorgeus…). Forget about security video on YouTube, just take the (extremly safe) flight to Israel and enjoy.

  27. 6:40 oh no… arabs gets to have the number "6" on their passport? Israeli ask them more question?? well, IN ARAB COUNTRIES ISRAELI CANT EVEN GET IN THE AIRPORT. THEY ARE BLOCKED JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE ISRAELI PASSPORT. This is turly RACIST.

  28. cheap flights and increased air travel shouldn't be the goal, cosidering how many deaths are being caused by climate change!
    how about taking the train for short to medium distances? seems to be pretty safe too.

  29. The interview really isn't that intense I go to Ben gorion airport alot and they only ask me 1-3 questions usually just if enyone else has packed your bags

  30. We out prices on human life in speed limits, health care, personal security, food monitoring, etc… anyone who says every human life is priceless is a fucking moron.

  31. How are Israeli measures unethical, go fuck your self lefty. Just like the US has people who wont acknowledge that despite not all committing crime, the risk when encountering young black men is much higher. Profiling works, and it changes with the demographics of an area. Just like back home, I’m aware of shitbag looking white guys bc they are most likely to Jack me for some drug money. Bet this cunt who made the video lives in one of our liberal utopias, I mean shitholes, like Chicago, LA, San Fran, or deluded beta enclaves like Brooklyn.

  32. The only thing they asked me when I flew from Ben Gurion was if I received any gift.
    My reponse was: "No, I had to buy everything."

  33. If you want to do a more thorough calculation of deaths from security discouraging people from flying, you also need to calculate deaths from climate disruption caused by flying. Global deaths from climate change already run into the hundreds of thousands each year (millions from air pollution, though air travel would make a far smaller contribution to this than internal combustion engines in cities and coal-fired power plants), and GHG emissions from flying are already over 2% of global emissions (and rising). So far, far more people die from the climate effects of flights than die in plane crashes.

  34. Wait, if Israel is testing based on response time to questions, and how nervous you are, I’m screwed. Ive flown many times, and have always hesitated at TSA, or other security questioning

  35. I feel like I would be the one person who is completely innocent but has a bad memory so messed up a few questions and gets a 6 :/

  36. airport security is feodalism. The burning off of excess wealth. Billions in fake scanners, billions in lost hrs. Crazy prices for flights (you pay the TSA) that should've been 10% of original price already .

    Airfuel hoax

    But besides that it is the burning off of of excess wealth 1984

    Im getting tired explaining same shit over and over again. Everything that is false and not functioning right, it is by design. To keep us poor and paying through the teeth for everything. Cause it only works when you get on a plane in rich Western countries. You step on a plane from Marocco, Banglades, India there is nothing to scan or control. You just walk through cause islam terrorism is from Jews/ Jezuits anyway.

    But the billions of investment and hate against muslims for fcucking your sweet ride up is there, in hours long waiting lines.

    The lines are for nothing, the investments to burn of your wealth in hight tach which cant be used most of the times.

    It is 1984 that you need to read, to overstand your situation.

    Or just die. Also good, cause useless is as useless does.

  37. Total nudity from start to finish, colonoscopies, mouth versions, pilots behind fortress doors, pilots armed with pistols, passengers drugged asleep, other staff all armed with electric batons. Random beatings to improve morale.

  38. NOOOOOO, it should not be a goal to get cheap, short flights more spread around the world!!!

    These routes should get affordable and quick by train, if we don't want to accellerate the climatic catastrophe, but rather get a green future, worth living with quality air and less extreme weather!!

    Also many things won't get extremely expensive, if we slow down climate change.

  39. Fuck Israel and their racism, of course they’re going to racially profile arabs maybe its because Israel decided to just kick them out.

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