Adopting the Israeli Airport Security Model
I’ve been reading a lot recently — like this article on the Israeli airport security model, and how we should adopt more of the Israeli security model here in the U.S. This sums up the problem with that idea nicely:
On the other hand, no matter how safe or how wonderful the flying experience on El Al, it is TINY airline by U.S. standards, with only 38 aircraft, 46 destinations, and fewer than two million passengers in 2008. As near as I can tell, Cairo is their only destination in a majority Muslim country. Delta, before the Northwest merger is included, reported 449 aircraft and 375 destinations.
Ben Gurion Airport is Israel’s primary (not only) international gateway. In 2008, Ben Gurion served 11.1 million international passengers and 470,000 domestic passengers, roughly comparable to the 10 million total served at Sacramento, the airport I use most often. Amsterdam served 47.4 million total, and Detroit served 35.1 million total in 2008.
By American standards, in terms of passengers served, Ben Gurion is a busy regional airport.
Simply put, the Israeli airport security model does not scale.
EDITED TO ADD (1/7): More.
EDITED TO ADD (1/12): Interview with El Al’s former head of security.