Airports have traditionally been some of the busiest hubs of people in the world. Thousands of people go through these hubs to get home, to work, or to vacation destinations. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia is the single busiest airport in the United States. With 151 domestic, and 28 international gates, Hartsfield-Jackson has almost 45 million passengers traveling through its complex every year. For comparison, Boston’s Logan International Airport is the19th busiest airport in the country with approximately 14 million passengers passing through every year. Airports have many subunits which work together to move passengers to their final destination. These subunits are, but not limited to, ticket counters where customers purchase tickets and check-in, baggage drops and collection, aircraft ground services, runway operations, passenger waiting areas, airport gate operations, and perhaps most importantly, airport security.
Until approximately the 1960’s, airport security was not a major issue. Travelers could quickly move from the check-in counter to their flight with minimal baggage or body checks. Sharp objects, and even guns at one point, were routinely allowed onboard aircrafts – until increases in terrorism and aircraft hijackings led to new security measures. Decades later, the events of September 11, 2001 led to a completely new set of security restrictions, and as a result, now every traveler must pass through a long and arduous security process in order to board an aircraft. In fact, it has now become a rite of passage for a traveler to have a frustrating experience while traveling.
Today, the task of operating airport security is managed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is under the Department of Homeland Security. The TSA uses various forms of security measures to ensure passenger security. Some low-tech measures include verifying a person’s identity and checking for unnecessarily nervous passengers. They will even pat down a person’s clothes and manually search that person’s luggage. Additionally, the TSA also uses metal detectors, luggage x-ray machines, and full body scanners to a similar effect. All of these measures are to ensure that passengers do not bring contraband items that may compromise the security of the passengers onboard the aircraft, as well as the general population in the event of a hijacking.
Information about Consumers
There are three major types of airline passengers which pass through airport security: business passengers, leisure passengers, and passengers with special needs. Business passengers travel frequently, have minimal carry-on luggage, and typically do not cause congestion. The average leisure traveler is one who travels occasionally, is familiar with the airport security process and passes through the security process in a reasonable amount of time. The special needs passenger is one who needs extra time to pass through security and board an aircraft – typically large families with small children, people with disabilities, or elderly people who move slowly.
Regardless of the type of person passing through security, each has a set of expectations during the process. They expect to move through the security line at a reasonable pace and want to avoid waiting in long lines. They expect to be treated professionally and courteously. They expect their belongings will be safe as they pass through the x-ray machine. Finally, there is an expectation that the security process works and does an adequate job to provide safety.
Objectives of the Security Process
There are two main objectives of the airport security process. The first is to ensure that the passengers are not carrying any dangerous items on board and that they are not an immediate threat to anyone else, including themselves. This is achieved by an ID verification and a thorough...