Is a hassle-free airport possible?

Some years ago on trip to India, I remember having passed through the security check just before getting into the airplane at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. However in the subsequent flights I have taken from there I never saw this again… until last summer, on another trip to a non-Schengen destination, Tunisia.

Here is the picture I took.

X-ray scanners and metal detectors at Schiphol, Amsterdam.

As you can see, in terminal 1 departures D of Schiphol airport, the security control is located just where each boarding gate is.

You can imagine how much this measure reduces the hassle passengers experience in airports. To take that flight, we arrived at the airport, dropped our luggage, showed our boarding pass and passport to an official (no long queue, no removing of personal belongings…), walked to our boarding gate and only there we made a small queue for the security control… The difference: that queue is composed of just the people who will come in your flight, you are seeing the airplane out there, there is no rush, they are seeing you, you are not missing the plane…

I tried to get the numbers from Madrid-Barajas airport but I did not find them (if any one has better estimates or a reliable source, please feel free to contribute), nevertheless, from having seen the different terminals I can figure out that:

  • It may have around 230 boarding gates among all the terminals (over 60 between T1, T2 and T3, around 90 in T4 and over 60 in T4S).
  • It may have no more 50 than x-ray scanners…

If you wanted to install 2 per boarding gate, you would need to invest in buying and staffing more than 4 times the number of x-ray scanners and metal detectors than the ones that there are now… It would be so easy… if just air traffic controllers did not suck up a whole 30% of AENA yearly costs [pdf, 741 Kb] (~1bn€)…


Filed under Aerospace & Defence

3 responses to “Is a hassle-free airport possible?

  1. As you know, here in the USA they are crazy about security in airports, specially after 11S. The jurisdiction is DHS, and I always wondered how they could get away with they practices.
    It was very interesting to see that the NAS made an independent assessment…
    If you go to their page 2 it reads: “with the exception of risk analysis for natural disaster preparedness, the committee did not find any DHS risk analysis capabilities and methods that are yet adequate for supporting DHS decision making, because their validity and reliability are untested. Moreover, it is not yet clear that DHS is on a trajectory for development of methods and capability that is sufficient to ensure reliable risk analyses other than for natural disasters”

    • Interesting… though not very surprising :-(.

      When I think about airport security, I always have the same recurring thought: haven’t they realized in Heathrow that it doesn’t matter the level of scrutiny they place in the security control, that if the scrutiny is not up to the par in all the airports of origin of all incoming flights to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton… then the danger is virtually the same as if there wasn’t such caution in London?

      (I almost regret having said this… some one will have the idea of creating even more hassle in all airports in which there is a flight departing to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton)

  2. I loved the last part: you could take the money from here, for example. 🙂

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