John Tierney writes in the NYT about reducing wait times and improving security at airports (subscription req’d). About a security experiment in Dulles:
The screeners at Dulles stopped worrying about pen knives, shoes and laptops, allowing passengers to pass through more quickly. The speed of the line increased by nearly a third. The screening process required fewer workers, but they detected more problems because they worked smarter.
Instead of looking for things, they looked at people. Borrowing techniques from Israeli airports and the U.S. Customs Service, screeners observed a passenger as he entered the airport, checked luggage and stood in line at the security checkpoint.
This is an altogether sensible policy that I hope can be adopted on a wide scale. There are two components to any successful air attack – an instrument of death and someone to use the instrument. As US security can’t prevent a determined bomber from putting explosives on a plane, keeping an eye out for suspicious behaviors could be the only way to stop a terrorist at that late a stage.