What Is Airport Security?

Written by regionadmin

14th April 2022

Airport security is something we all must experience when we travel by plane. While it can be seen to be as unnecessary, it is an essential part of making sure everyone involved in the process of this sort of travel is kept safe.

Here we’re going to go over some of the history of airport security over the past 50 years, as well as some tips you can use when going through airport security on the way to your holiday destination.

When Was Airport Security First Introduced?

Airport security measures are constantly being evaluated and improved as time goes on. With technological advancement and new risks being identified, security needs to adapt with change to keep people safe. This was no different for when airport security was first introduced across the world.

Security could be seen as quite relaxed in comparison to today’s standard. With X-ray machines not being implemented until the 1970’s and it was very rare that ID was checked, meaning you could get away with using a ticket under someone else’s name.

While each country introduced airport security in different ways, and at different times. There as some notable examples of when it first began being established as well as new processes and procedures being implemented.

What Do Airport Security Check For?

Airport security teams are there to keep everybody safe, both passengers and airport staff. They are vigilant for multiple different types of security threat.  This ranges from people smuggling large quantities of illegal substances into a country such as drugs, and threats of terrorism such as terror attacks and the transport of dangerous materials.

Some countries will also be checking for things which are not allowed in their country. This could be certain types of food and animals.

What Airport Security Measures Are In Place?

Full Body Scanners

Body scanners are one of the first aspects of airport security you will meet. These will detect any foreign objects you may be carrying on your person that are not allowed to be carried through an airport, and on a flight.

A version of this is also used on luggage to make sure there is no contraband getting onto a flight that way.

Metal Detectors

One of the most frequently used items you will see in airports across the world are metal detectors. You will be required to pass through these at airport security to make sure you are not carrying any metal objects on your person. These are mainly used to make sure people are not carrying any offensive weapons on them that could contain metal parts, such as knives, firearms, or explosives.

Biometric Identification

Scanners like the ones used at Gatwick Airport in the UK, will use Biometric identification combined with boarding passes. The information taken using these scanners includes:

  • Boarding pass details
  • Passenger photo
  • Facial biometric algorithm results

This information is used to verify that the passengers boarding fights are the same ones that entered the airport itself.

Liquid restrictions

As mentioned previously, liquid restrictions have been found throughout airport security since the transatlantic bomb plot in 2006. While there is a limit to 100ml of liquid in hand luggage in the UK now, there are hopes that this will no longer be a factor from December 2022 as new 3D baggage scanning equipment is introduced.

Sniffer dogs

With dog handling always having a prominent role in security, detection dogs are used in airport security to detect explosive devices and drugs. There were even trials in 2021 for detection dogs to provide a role in detecting Covid-19 in passengers. They will sniff passengers, hand luggage, suspicious packages and even the aircraft itself if the situation calls for it.

Tips For Going Through Airport Security

While it can be time consuming and frustrating, going through airport security is an essential part of travel that you must go through. Here are some tips to make your experience with airport security as smooth as possible.

  • Wear as little metal as possible
  • Keep your ID at hand
  • Have your boarding pass ready to be scanned
  • Be ready to remove your coat, shoes, and your belt
  • Have all your toiletries in a see-through bag
  • Keep any electronics separate, ready to be scanned with the rest of your luggage
  • Be compliant with airport security teams

 If you want more details on what sort of airport security you can expect, as well as what is and isn’t allowed, we recommend checking the website of the airport you are travelling from as they will have a comprehensive list of their policies and procedures.

Following these tips as well as our safety tips when travelling will help keep you safe when you are on your holiday.

airport security

How Airport Security Changed After The Hindawi Affair

The Hindawi Affair in the UK in 1986 was an attempted terrorist attack resulted in policies and practices being put into place to establish whether someone had packed their bag themselves, left it unattended at anytime and were aware of the contents of their bag.

This was in direct response to a failed bombing attempt on El Al Flight 016 flying from London to Tel Aviv. Security guards working there found 1.5 kilograms of Semtex explosives as well as calculator that was supposed to be used to detonate it.

Checking to see if your bag was packed by yourself and if it was left unattended at any point is now commonplace at airport security across the world.

what is airport security

How Airport Security Changed After 9/11 

After the events of the 9/11 terrorist attack, airport security around the world changed forever. It is easy to establish a pre and post 9/11 period when it comes to looking into airport security. On the day the attacks took place, the prime minister at the time in the UK, Tony Blair, said that no flight will take off from the UK unless we can apply the highest of security measures.

A lot of the airport security measures we encounter when travelling via plane were introduced as a direct response to the 9/11 attacks, and those that were already established were improved upon and made even stricter.

In 2011 airport security in the UK was costing £4.6 billion a year, which just demonstrates how much this attack effected how the importance of airport security is perceived. Enhanced airport security measures included:


  • Stricter bag scanning
  • No blades allowed on planes
  • No large liquids allowed
  • Full body scans
  • Removing shoes during security checks
  • Bomb sniffing dogs
  • Increased security checkpoints

How Airport Security Changed After The Transatlantic Bomb Plot

In 2006 a planned terrorist attack was discovered by authorities that involved bringing liquid explosives concealed in drink bottles. Due to this passenger can no longer bring containers larger than 100 ml onto commercial aircraft in their hand luggage in the UK and most other countries, as of 2022.

Immediately following the incident limited hand luggage rules were introduced with no hand luggage being allowed at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, which took several months to be eased. No liquids apart from baby milk was permitted on flights between the UK and US, with more airport security checkpoints being setup.


Final Thoughts

Airport security teams are there to keep everybody safe, both passengers and airport staff. They are vigilant for multiple different types of security threat.  This ranges from people smuggling large quantities of illegal substances into a country such as drugs, and threats of terrorism such as terror attacks and the transport of dangerous materials.

It is important to comply with security measures when using an airport for travel, it is there to keep all of us safe.

Check out our news page so that you can stay up to date with all the latest safety tips and guides.

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