Here is Timothy Taylor commenting on a study of airport security:
K. Jack Riley considers “Flight of Fancy? Air Passenger Security Since 9/11.” He has been thinking over the time and cost tradeoffs of airline passenger security. “There is very little reason to be concerned about suicide bombers being present on flights originating in the United States. The security improvements noted above—passenger vigilance, cockpit security, and visa screening—go a long way toward preventing radical jihadists from entering the country or, having entered, from being able to commandeer a plane to conduct a spectacular attack. . . . Recognizing the security of flights originating in the United States and thus returning all passengers to the domestic procedures that existed before the recent additions would save, at minimum, about $1.2 billion annually. . . . It would also reduce the deadweight losses that domestic travelers incur from arriving at airports early, waiting in lines, and undergoing intensive scrutiny.” “The current security regime applies the same procedures to all 700 million passengers who board planes each year in the United States. That we have not developed a reasonable way to reduce that inspection workload is perhaps the biggest missed opportunity of the past decade. A trusted traveler program could be configured in a variety of ways.” “Researchers have estimated that the 9/11 attacks generated nearly 2,200 additional road traffic deaths in the United States through mid-2003 from a relative increase in driving and reduction in flying resulting from fear of additional terrorist attacks and associated reductions in the convenience of flying. If the new security measures are generating similar, or even smaller, substitutions and the driving risk has grown as hypothesized, the new methods could be contributing to more deaths annually on U.S. roads than have been experienced cumulatively since 9/11 from terrorism against air transportation targets around the world.”
There are about 22 months between 9/11 and mid-2003, hence our airport security is killing about 100 people per month—roughly the typical passenger load on a Boeing 737. Robin Hanson would point out that the government is showing that they care.
Here’s a case where security and freedom are aligned.
BTW, even if the actual number is zero, I don’t think the lives saved are worth the hassle at airport security.