Wendover Productions takes a detailed look at airport security. The most interesting portion for me is the assessment of the potential increase in deaths that more airport security (or “security theater”) potentially has indirectly.
Few ever stop to question if we even want an increase in airport security. If it comes at the expense of time, maybe we don’t.
As mentioned, the US has not had a successful terror attack on an airplane since 9/11. Worldwide, airplane hijackings are now almost nonexistent, but security has a consequence. In the most direct way, tickets for every single flight leaving from a US airport include a $5.60 fee that goes towards paying for security. This may not be much in the scope of a multi-hundred dollar flight to Europe or Asia, but if the US ever wants to get to the point where Europe is of having $10 or $20 budget airline tickets between domestic destinations, this fee has to go.
A study found that the TSA’s average cost per life saved—how much money it spends to stop one human death—is $667 million. You can certainly say that you can’t put a price on a human life, but the security that saves these lives costs lives. The plane is empirically the safest way to travel—it’s hundreds or thousands of times safer than driving. So stopping people form flying is, in and of itself, deadly. Economists found that the increase in airport security in the US post 9/11 can account for 6% of the decline in air travel. Given that, in 2002 more than 500 died because, as a result of longer security times and more extensive searches, they chose to drive over fly and were involved in a fatal accident.