NEW YORK – Gresham, Smith and Partners recently designed a screening area at Norfolk International Airport in Virginia with one major concern in mind: flexibility, so it can adapt to changing security threats. From box-cutters to explosives to automatic weapons, the dangers for airport security evolve. So the firm created a large, open space without support columns that can be easily reconfigured to bring in the next generation of screening machines. "We don't know what's coming next so we design for that," said Wilson Rayfield, executive vice president in charge of aviation at the architecture, design and consulting firm. In the face of airport threats such as Tuesday's deadly attack in Istanbul, designers are asked to come to the front line of the security challenge and achieve the nearly impossible: improve security without slowing down travelers.
In the wake of two grisly attacks on European airports, one name has been on the lips of U.S. lawmakers and airport executives: Ben Gurion International Airport. The airport near Tel Aviv, named for Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, has a reputation as one of the world's most secure airports, where layers of security measures have kept the facility free of hijackings and terrorist attacks since the 1970s. U.S. airport executives and lawmakers have increasingly debated whether the security measures used at Ben Gurion could prevent the kind of bloodshed that took place in the Brussels and Istanbul airports this year. Those measures include widely accepted passenger profiling based on appearance and behavior, multiple security screenings in the terminal and checkpoints in the general vicinity of the airport. Ben Gurion hosted a conference last month attended by airport officials from more than 40 countries to learn about the airport's security tactics, and former Ben Gurion security officials have testified several times at U.S. congressional hearings over the last few years.
Travelers know what to expect from airport security: limits on liquids, requirements to remove shoes and belts, occasional pat downs and luggage X-rays. But these security measures, many put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City, focus on eliminating attacks on planes -- not at the airports. And after the attacks in Brussels, airport security has been thrust into the spotlight. Airports across the country are working to reevaluate security risks and update procedures. These changes could take several different forms says Jim Hutton, chief security officer of travel risk management company On Call International.
Travelers make their way through a TSA checkpoint at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. in 2015. WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security Administration has ousted its head of security operations and put new leadership in charge of screening operations at a major international airport, but long checkpoint lines and travel headaches already pervading the busy summer travel season are likely to continue. Kelly Hoggan was removed from his post as the agency's top security official Monday and replaced by a former federal security director in Los Angeles and New York, Darby LaJoye. Hoggan's ouster and a new management team in charge of screening operations at Chicago O'Hare International Airport were announced Monday after a series of Capitol Hill hearings focused on allegations of agency mismanagement and growing concerns about airport wait times. The issue came to a head in recent weeks when thousands of passengers in Chicago missed flights because of lengthy wait times.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Wednesday that tablets, e-readers, and portable gaming systems will be required to be removed from bags and places through an x-ray screening process. The change in policy by the TSA will require devices like iPads and Amazon Kindles and gaming platforms like the Nintendo Switch to undergo the same screening process that laptops are subjected to. Under the new rules, travelers will be required to remove "all electronics larger than a cell phone" from their carry-on luggage and place the devices in a bin with no other items above or below the device. For the tech-savvy travelers who may carry multiple devices with them, this may require multiple bins just for electronics. The new screening process is already in place at 10 airports across the U.S., including Boise Airport, Colorado Springs Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Logan International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, McCarran International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.