According to CNN, “internal documents from a TSA working group” suggested examining whether to cut passenger screening at more than 150 airports that offer flights with 60 or fewer seats. The TSA working group made the suggestion based on the fact that the change would save approximately $115 million a year. According to the TSA, approximately 10,000 passengers are screened by 1,299 TSA employees every day at these airports.
While the potential policy may resonate with budgeting officials – and with travelers in a hurry to reach their flights – it is disastrous from a security standpoint. Many of these smaller airports already suffer from inadequate security, such as lack of towers or runway security, and ending passenger screening would significantly raise the risk of a problem at these airports. Terrorists, traffickers, and thugs carefully study security vulnerabilities, and ending screening translates to a flashing neon invitation for them to use these smaller airports to enter the United States. These individuals can then easily drive to larger metropolitan areas if desired, never facing any real screening.
Moreover, it is not even clear that the plan will save any money in the long run. Because the plan would require passengers from these small airports to go through security at the larger airports, the machines and personnel would likely deploy to those larger airports to assist with the heavier burden.
Very simply, ending passenger screening at small and medium sized airports would seriously jeopardize safety and security in the United States. While (maybe) penny wise, it is clearly pound foolish.