RealAirlineSecurity is a non-partisan grassroots organization devoted to improving airline security using the power of free markets and customer choice.
Unfortunately the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides primarily the appearance of security while diverting $8.1 billion dollars per year from being focused on real threats to the safety of the traveling public. Indeed, the TSA represents a real danger to the traveling public by encouraging the use of more dangerous forms of transportation, such as long-distance automobile trips.
The TSA also constantly hassles travelers with invasive searches and checks for trivial items, such as jars of Nutella sandwich spread, when those travelers have done nothing to suggest any criminal intent. Additionally, during luggage searches, passengers claim that TSA employees steal in excess of 3.8 billion dollars per year of passenger valuables, only 0.1% of which are ever re-paid to passengers.
These are serious problems with our current approach to airline safety, but what can be done?
Fortunately there are steps the American people can take to improve travelers’ safety while reducing or eliminating needless interference. We advocate for a three step program of privatization as a way to return some common sense to airline travel in America:
- Privatize the screeners. The TSA’s Screening Partnership Program allows airport screening to be performed by private security companies, rather than the TSA’s unionized government employees. In the 19 airports where private security firms have been used, travelers report improved responsiveness to customer concerns. A government study found that security was as good as that provided by TSA employees at no additional cost. Let’s let competition for the business of performing security screening work to improve traveler safety and comfort.
- Privatize the rules. The appropriate tradeoff between security on airplanes and traveler convenience is not a simple calculation. This complex determination is best made by the airlines, who own the airplanes, in cooperation with their passengers. Rather than a government mandated “one size fits all” solution, which seeks to minimize risks at any cost, airlines and airports should be able to compete with one another to find the best tradeoff which optimizes the desires of the passengers. Different airlines, terminals and airports may have different solutions to the problem of airline security and the market can determine which is the best for travelers using a tried and true approach – competition for business.
- Privatize the risks. The airlines, as owners of the aircraft, should be responsible not only for their passengers’ comfort and convenience, but also for their safety and that of others on the ground when flying overhead. After the terrible attacks on September 11, 2001, the airlines were relieved from much of the liability for damages caused by their aircraft by the Federal “Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act” (ATSSA). The financial risks of airplane flights should be borne by those who profit from it, namely, the airlines, as this is the only way to ensure appropriate decisions are made when balancing costs and security. The present system shifts the costs of the risks of airline flight to Federal taxpayers, many of whom may not be able to or choose not to fly when traveling. Those portions of the ATSSA shifting liability need to be repealed so that airlines bear the costs of the liability created by their business activities.