How to Write an A+ Essay on Airport Security

Airport security is one of the great annoyances of the 21st century. Thanks to a series of terrorist plots, getting on a plane has become a massive ordeal. Planning a trip is more difficult because it's necessary to think very carefully about what can go in hand baggage and what needs to be checked. The lines at security checkpoints seem to move more slowly every year as new things need to be examined; liquids are limited, shoes have to be taken off, laptops must be removed from hand luggage and X-Rayed separately. This excruciating rite of passage can be turned into an interesting essay subject. Here are some tips for writing a great paper.

  • Explain the threat. In the 1960s and 70s the main threat to passenger aircraft was hijacking. Now it's become more brutal; terrorists, mostly Islamists, simply want to destroy aircraft, either by blowing them up in midair or crashing them into other targets. The aim of security is to prevent any passenger bringing on either a bomb or a weapon that could be used to overpower the crew.
  • What items are being screened? Most attention is on liquids and electronic devices. The focus on liquids is due to a plot to bring down airliners with liquid explosive, which was detected by intelligence agencies. Electronic devices are a concern because they can hide the wiring of a bomb.
  • What are the best ways to get through security easily? Look at the lists of dangerous air cargo and the restrictions on liquids. If you must carry any of these items, what should you do instead of just waiting to be grabbed at security?
  • Can you think of any ways that airport security could be improved in the future? It's hard to predict what technology will be applied, either to terrorist weapons or to security scanners (and one tends to evolve in response to the other) but perhaps there are other things that could be done. Are there ways that procedures could be changed to minimise delays and inconvenience?
  • What about the morality of ethnic profiling? Unfortunately some ethnic groups - men from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, for example - make up a significant proportion of terrorists. Is it ethical to subject them to extra checks?
  • Are there privacy issues? Some modern scanners show a clear image of passengers through their clothes, and some people have complained about this. Are these complaints justified or does security outweigh such concerns?