At Tel-Aviv's Ben Gurion International airport there are six levels of security and yet passengers' wait time between arrival at the parking lot and getting to their gate or airline lounge is less than a half hour. It's the level of sophistication and methods used that make it bearable without body scans and pat-downs.
There hasn't been a breach of security in 8 years despite that country's ongoing strife with terrorist groups in surrounding countries. An Israeli security expert that consulted with airports throughout the world says it starts with looking at someone's face and speaking directly to them.
Roadside checks begin as passengers approach the airport. Officers ask why they are there and where they are coming from. "Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" explains Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, who spoke with the Toronto Star.
A second and third level of scrutiny begins as officers, often armed, observe passengers as they walk from their autos and just prior to their entrance to the terminal. Sela says, "At this point, some travelers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer." It's to check for heavy metal items.
Israeli's Ben Gurion Airport has not had a breach of security since 2002
Another personal encounter occurs as passengers approach the check-in area, during which they are questioned and observed again. Some are pulled out of line and brought to a secure area for a more lengthy question and answer session while their luggage is hand searched. At the check-in desk, luggage is immediately scanned.
Finally passengers are put through the experience we know from U.S. airports with a few important exceptions. Shoes are not removed nor are liquids banned, but there are more people scrutinizing a person's face and demeanor.
Lines are not long at Ben Gurion. Bunching people in large groups is inviting to a would-be bomber. They are staggered and there are more check points so that people aren't herded into one long line.
Sela said, "a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies. There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none." Thus American airports are reactive to the last security breach and how it occurred.
"You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."