The increasing demand for better passenger security because of the increasing security threats has changed the way passengers are profiled at the airport terminals and the rules used to profile them. Governments and passengers are required to comply with international aviation standards and legal requirements that have further strengthened the need for more stringent rules to profile customers, leading to the accusations that profiling is intrusive, racialist, and a waste of time. The results have been more complications on how profiling can be made effective while ensuring that the passengers’ travel experiences are kept pleasant.
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To address the problem, a research targeting the population of passengers who travel through the airports and the security personnel who man the airport terminals was conducted. The study involved a sample of 130 respondents who were issued with questionnaires to collect primary data to answer the research questions. An SPSS analysis of the responses showed that the use of risk based methods to separate low risk from high risk passengers, training of airport people, and compliance with aviation standards could enable the authorities to effectively profile passengers and maintain a balance with their travelling experience. It was recommended that further research should be conducted to determine the cost effectiveness of profiling in relation to air craft and passenger security.
Background of the Study
The problem of striking a balance between effective profiling and maintaining the passenger’s travelling experience has not received much attention in academic literature, creating a gap that needs to be addressed. Despite the inconvenience associated with passenger profiling, airport security officers and governments find it a mandatory obligation to protect passengers and airplanes in transit in compliance with the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) (Baker, 2002). Baker (2002) maintains that airport security rules are tedious and sometimes demeaning, leading to passenger dissatisfaction and poor travelling experiences.
However, the rules are mandatory because the security lapses at different airport terminals in recent years have compelled security agents to rigorously modify security measures to protect passengers from terrorist attacks that often catch airport authorities unawares. Despite the Transportation Association (IATA) making regular proposals of new measures that have implications on passenger travelling experiences, current trends in the aviation industry show that most terrorists get attracted to use air transport systems to inflict mass casualties, cause economic pain, and instill fear among the travellers. To address the problem, a flurry of security measures have been implemented in many airports, attracting additional measures that infringe upon the privacy of travellers (Daniel III, 2001).
The problem has escalated further on how to provide an acceptable balance between how to effectively profile passengers and their travelling experiences in view of the new legislation that has been implemented in the aviation industry. For instance Annex 2 requirements dictate that “air travel must be safe and efficient; this requires, among other things, a set of internationally agreed rules of the air” (Daniel III, 2001, p.3). In addition, the “the rules developed by ICAO – which consist of general rules, visual flight rules and instrument flight rules contained in Annex 2 – apply without exception over the high seas, and over national territories to the extent that they do not conflict with the rules of the State being overflown” (Daniel III, 2001, p.23).
However, several issues arise that need to be given due attention to effectively profile and maintain pleasant passenger travelling experience and ensure that their exposure to risks are reduced. Daniel III (2001) suggested that authorities should improve the quality of security checks to maintain positive customer experience. Despite many countries signing up to international standards and key international agreements such as the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the United Arab Emirates promulgated the civil aviation laws to make sure that there was full compliance to the regulations of the country’s aviation industry. Here, the problem on how to effectively profile passengers and maintain their experience when travelling from one destination to the other continues to trouble airport security authorities (Frederickson & LaPorte, 2002). To address the problem, the study will be guided by the following specific objectives.
To study how to strike a balance between effective profiling and maintaining the passenger’s travelling experience.
- Investigate the effects of the international aviation security standards requirements on passenger profiling
- Investigate how passenger wait times affect the efficiency of passenger profiling
- Determine the implications of risk based profiling on passengers
- Appraise the effects of profiling on travelling experiences
- Evaluate the profiling pros and cons of passenger profiling experiences
- What are the effects of the international aviation security standards requirements on passenger profiling?
- How do passenger wait times affect the efficiency of passenger profiling?
- What are the implications of risk based profiling on passengers?
- What experiences do travellers get subjected to when they are profiled at airport terminals?
- What are the pros and cons of profiling passenger on their travelling experiences?
Profiling and international security standards
Investigations show that profiling passengers is one of the internationally accepted approaches that airport authorities use to identify high risk passengers to protect those who are innocent from the threats majorly posed by terrorists. Profiling customers is consistent with international standards that are pursuant of the main objective of ensuring the safety of passengers (Jacobson, Lee & Nikolaev, 2009). Critics argue that the mandatory legal requirements infringe upon the privacy of passengers, leaving them with negative experiences, which makes them develop negative attitudes towards profiling as a commonly used security measure.
However, the legal requirements and standards are designed to make airport authorities to achieve the security standards required to enforce a safe travelling environment. The standards are mandatory for every airport security agency to implement because the agencies find it easy to uphold the recommended safety obligations by following the standard rules for screening passengers. A general survey of the airports around the world show that airport authorities have implemented the safety requirements that include profiling passengers because of the increasing threats from terrorist (Persico & Todd, 2005).
However, a lot of criticism has been directed at the security mechanisms on how they capture the passenger details to determine whether they pose any security threats. In addition, Persico and Todd (2005) argue that human rights bodies claim that profiling infringes on the privacy of passengers, which is a violation of the constitutional rights of the passengers.
In general, the safety obligations for airport security agencies and individuals when boarding planes include the duty to refrain from the use of weapons against civil air crafts in flight or at rest, provide safety oversights, and punish any criminal actions that place the safety of the travellers in danger. The obligations inter se, which are also defined as erga omnes show that security agencies should be responsible for ensuring the safety obligations by different countries toward the international communities, which are according to the Chicago Convention that was adopted in 1944, pave the way for intrusive profiling. Persico and Todd (2005) argue that according to the convention, the person travelling must not act in a manner that violates the safety of other passengers and airport authorities have to act in a manner that does not put the interests of the citizens of other states in jeopardy.
Article 33 of the Chicago Convention provides details of the obligations that are contained in the certificate of competency and air worthiness for countries to adhere to as stipulated in the aviation standards. However, non-complying states are not issued with the certificates if they fail to adhere to the safety regulations and standards for passengers and air crafts as stipulated in the Chicago Convention framework on how to enhance the global safety of passengers and air crafts (Persico & Todd, 2005).
However, compliance with the safety standards is mandatory because air travel is not restricted to one country only. Typically, a terrorist can travel from one country to cause havoc in another country wherever they detect vulnerabilities in the safety framework of any country, implying that there is no country that is safe. Here, it requires countries to adopt a bilateral mind because safety is grounded on the adherence to a normative system.
It is recommended that passengers should comply with the FAA regulations for screening passengers to make sure that basic profiling and screening standards are adhered to in accordance with section 14 C.F.R part 108 of the FAA convention. The guidelines also state that the best tools and procedures to use to effectively profile passengers. In addition, the FAA regulations outline the minimum standards for training security officers to work effectively. It is evident that among the proposed skills those airport staff need to possess to be effective include the ability to identify the aptitude of a person, basic motor skills, physical abilities, visual and aural acuity, reading and writing skills, good oral skills, color perceptions and 40 hours of on the job training.
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Profiling efficiency and passenger wait times
Ravich (2007) maintains that the time taken profile passengers at an airport terminal are a crucial task that affects the passenger’s attitudes towards the services offered and the effectiveness of the procedures. Using a well implemented primary profiling method for passengers, the probability of catching the bad guy disguised as a genuine passenger increases. One primary approach is to keep the average waiting time of the customers as low as possible while ensuring extensive reliance on the effectiveness of human performance to profile the passengers. Profiling is particularly ineffective if the screening rules involve intensive human activities to discover high risk people (Reddick, 2004).
It critical to note that efficiency cannot be achieved in a system with weaknesses that include a “wide range of human factors considerations pertaining to screening rules, training, fatigue and alertness, human perception and detection capabilities, and judgment and decision making can have a significant effect on the overall effectiveness of passenger checkpoint screening as well as baggage screening operations” (Reddick, 2004, p.3). Inefficiency of the system is compounded by the fact that those human beings who carry out the profiling of people are potentially vulnerable to the bad elements that are among those being screened. That makes the work of profiling customers a difficult task, which results into negative passenger feelings and experiences.
Effective profiling is achieved by quickly processing passengers to avoid bottlenecks at the airport terminals and checkpoints to make sure that a passenger does not wait at a terminal for more than 10 minutes (Sweet, 2011). Here, the security officials make sure that the terminal efficiency is kept as high as possible while ensuring high levels of threat detection are maintained. On the other hand, it is clear that engineers and researchers endeavor to maintain high levels of “lane efficiency and effectiveness, longstanding wait time objectives have been set by policy, largely based on what is regarded as reasonable to expect by the traveling public” (Sweet, 2011, p.5). On the other hand, increasing the number of check points could increase the checkpoint throughput without resulting into excessive queuing. In addition, that could result in less space requirements for queuing without resulting into overcrowding that could aggravate the security risks at the airport terminal.
However, Reddick (2004) contends that the limitations in the ability to detect the behavior of bad passengers and the perceptions developed by other passengers such as those who feel belittled could “certainly annoy fewer people, but it wouldn’t make us safer and its sole benefits would be accomplished by treating an entire minority group as second-class citizens” (Reddick, 2004, p.34). It is possible for criminal to try to hijack human perceptions to comprise security and carry out the destructive equipment through check points. Some of the “factors that contribute to such a scenario include “inadequate training, lack of motivation and job satisfaction, fatigue, and workplace conditions, as well as general human perception and performance limitations” (Reddick, 2004, p.34).
Profiling performance is critical in ensuring effective security checks are implemented without compromising the travelling experience of passengers. Profiling performance is affected by two critical components, which include those passengers who fit into the profile that the authorities regard as selected profile and the airlines the person often uses to travel. Information in the first case “is a person’s address, whether the person purchased a ticket in cash, whether the ticket was purchased in advance or shortly before departure, with whom they will travel, whether they will rent a car, when they will depart, the origin and destination of the flight, the destination of the passenger and whether the flight is one-way or return “(Persico & Todd, 2005). Because such passengers are subjected to heightened security measures, there is the general feeling that their privacy rights are being abrogated and that leads to complaints and negative passenger experiences.
Implications of risk based profiling
The risk based approach has had consequences on the way the airport authorities manage their passenger profiling and the experiences customers undergo. In the context of airport security, risk is viewed as a tool that enables the airport security officers to thoroughly screen passenger before they are allowed to board planes. However, an argument arises on the privacy of the passengers and their health and human rights issues (Baker, 2002).
Here, a balance has to be drawn between the privacy, health, and human rights issues with the effectiveness of the profiling system. However, customer screening cannot be averted because it can results to serious security breaches. Despite many proponents of the risk based approach arguing that risk based screening should be mandatory to make sure that effective profiling and passenger experience, the performance implications such as the long delays and the attitude developed by the passengers negate the need to sue the method.
However, a strategy that involves the use of two approaches to reduce the last minute rush has been recommended by the proponents of the risk based approach. The first approach is to use a pre-clearing approach where low-risk passengers are identified and removed from the queue to expedite the processing of passengers. The strategic approach of classifying passengers into the low risk category is done by identifying the passengers and the reasons for traveling, using observational techniques to evaluate the behavioral aspects of the passenger, making observations one of the most effective tools to detect the behavior of passengers. Behavioral signs that are exhibited by a dangerous person include “lack of cooperation with the airport security officers making contradictory statements, and avoidance to answer certain questions” (Frederickson & LaPorte, 2002, p.2).
Such an approach is time-consuming, ineffective, and attracts a lot of criticism on privacy rights. On the other hand, passport signs such as passengers failing to speak the language of the country that issued the passport, and the purchase of a one way ticket. Large amounts of cash and new suitcases and nationality issues are high risk factors that airport security officers use to differentiate high risk passengers from normal passengers. Frederickson and LaPorte, (2002) contend that the rules are time-consuming, but when done using modern techniques such as Advance Passenger Information (API), arrival or entry management rules, Post-flight analysis, and In-flight security including the use of standardized In-flight CCTV and Cockpit Voice Recorders, the profiling can be made effective and less time-consuming.
In addition, using the industry-wide Simplifying Passenger Travel (SPT), the second option is to use a risk screening system that is redesigned to reduce delays by redirecting resources to those points where the resources are in high demand. While computer aided profiling is widely accepted and used in many airports in the world today, researchers argue that the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) is slow and does not provide accurate screening of passengers (Persico & Todd, 2005). However, by separating high risk passengers from the low risk passengers, it is possible to reduce the time taken to screen passengers. Here, the key elements to look for include fingerprint check against criminal and civil files, providing an employer’s statement of confidence, issuing a record of financial security with no unexplained deviations from typical patterns, verified, stable employment history, unexceptional National Agency Check, and record demonstrating firm community roots (Persico & Todd, 2005).
Profiling and travelling experiences
Here, the travelling experiences include the ability of the airport authorities to provide high quality services to the passengers that enhance the movement of customers from one destination to the other. Other travelling experiences that are outlined by the Airport Council International (ACI) include the ability to give effective services in the context of “check-in, bags ready to go, document check, flight re-booking, self-boarding and bag recovery)” (Persico & Todd, 2005, p.34). Typically, it requires that the passenger related information should be captured by using the right tools and methods to capture high quality data. The data capturing method should not compromise the quality of data being captured and the security of the airport terminals and passengers on transit.
Baker (2002) argues that the security measure should be implemented in a way to ensure that there is a smooth and effective flow of customers at the security points using the already available passenger profiling technology infrastructure (Ravich, 2007).
However, critics say that profiling is highly unreliable because it lacks the ability to provide detailed evidence of the person being profiled and relies on assumptions that do not provide information about the actual status of a person. However, critics are mainly concerned with the waiting time and the experience one undergoes when they are being profiled. A study that was conducted at an airport in the UK to appraise the responses from customers on their service expectation in relation to the screening of their profiles showed that 89% complained that they were made to wait ion the queue for three to four hours to have their details collected (Baker, 2002). However, despite the inconvenience the passengers were experiencing, 35% of the customers were satisfied even if they were made to wait longer to be profiled because they were assured of their safety.
The critics who argue that profiling passengers who might not have anything to do with terrorism acts is a waste of time and displeasing that leads to negative customer experiences do not look at the other side of the coin. While the demerits of profiling customers seem to weight on the privacy and the performance of the profiling rules by airport authorities, proponents of profiling customers agree that striking a balance between profiling and customer experiences is critical (Ravich, 2007).
On the hand it is argued that effective profiling can be achieved by using information from different sources and not necessarily based on the race of persons. It is possible to remove passengers with negligible risks from the list of passengers by relying on information they provide to the security personnel. Doing this could reduce the number of passengers screened by 60%, reducing the congestion and time spent on to profile each passenger (Ravich, 2007).
Ravich (2007) argues that the security of passengers in the aviation industry can be implemented by using modern technologies to identify high risk passengers who pose serious threats to airplanes and passengers to remove them from the list of those who are allowed to fly. In addition, the approach enables the security agents to secure the airports from terrorist threats using available resources in an optimal manner.
A study investigating the possibility of striking a balance between profiling passengers in the aviation industry and maintaining good customer travelling experience recommends that if airport security agents use information such as nervousness of a passenger in the airport, they are likely to discover a passenger with ulterior motives. Evidence has been adduced based on the methods used by Israeli security authorities who are highly qualified and trained security people in detecting terrorists wanting to board passenger air crafts. It is argued that Israel has one of the best methods for detecting terrorists that security officials from other countries can learn from. In addition, the country has the best quality training programs in the world that airport security agents should take (Ravich, 2007). Undergoing such a program can enable a security agent to easily detect people who behave suspiciously, which calls for further screening and interrogation to establish the details of such a person.
Another example of effective profiling is that of the Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab that yielded information on how a terrorist behaves. The report shows that the person had no luggage, and he used hard currency to buy a one way ticket, facts which clearly define someone with ill motives (Ravich, 2007). A well trained person can easily detect such a person without using complex methods.
Passenger profiling, pros and cons
Profiling passengers was viewed as a way the airport authorities used to separate high risk passengers from low risk passengers, however those who oppose profiling argue that it enables airport authorities to intrude into the privacy of customers despite the argument held that profiling is necessary to ensure that the conduct and appearance of passengers does not endanger the lives of other citizens. However, it is crucial to note that profiling is done in compliance with the aviation safety standards to identify high risk customers who pose security threats to the airlines and the passengers (Frederickson & LaPorte, 2002). It implies that governments throughout the world have the legitimate right to impose security measures to ensure passenger safety at airport terminals and for air crafts in flight. Profiling is one of the methods that are used by airport authorities, despite being heavily criticised when it involves the screening of passengers.
However, screening can be done effectively using modern equipment and techniques, leaving customer feelings and attitudes not changed for the worst. Effective screening provides the best visibility of the passengers and is one of the most relied upon security component in the aviation industry.
Different types of screening are used today and one approach is to provide authorities with name record of each customer. If a database is used to appraise customer details and history, it is possible to screen a passenger in the shortest possible time, leaving them with a positive experience of the screening process. Here, the most important information that should be captured about a passenger includes the eating, sleeping, and purchasing habits (Frederickson & LaPorte, 2002). Such details can be determined using modern-day screening technologies without making passengers to develop negative feelings about the procedure.
However, profiling passengers need to be in compliance with the FAA requirements that necessitate states to use behavioural profiling to select passengers that can be screened at the airport terminals. However, the method draws a lot of criticism because it seems that compliance with the FAA requirements subjects some passengers to the discriminatory practice. The rationale was to profile passengers who were not successfully screened using the metal detectors and other detection methods at the airport terminals. Israel is one of the countries that have invested heavily in behavioural profiling with resounding success.
The study of effective profiling of passengers while maintaining travellers’ experience in the aviation industry was conducted based on both qualitative and quantitative research paradigms to collect both secondary and primary data to answer the research questions. Secondary data obtained was from articles and primary data from a survey of passengers travelling through one airport and airport security officers who perform security checks. Questionnaires were administered to both the passengers and the security people and collected instantly when the passengers had finished answering the questions. Because of the study environment, the number of questions was reduced to allow the customers enough time to respond fully to the questions.
The benefits of using the questionnaire as the best primary data collection tool was because of the ability to collect large amounts of practical data while ensuring that the validity and reliability of the responses were maintained. On the other hand, the research design consisted of using a survey based approach to collect primary data to answer the research questions. A pilot test was done to evaluate the internal consistency of the questionnaire constructs that yielded Cronbach’s Alpha of above 0.835, which showed that there was high internal consistency and reliability of the questionnaire constructs that are shown in table 1. On the other hand, the percentage responses from the respondents were analysed using SPSS software to answer the research questions.
Table 1: Reliability test.
|Cronbach’s Alpha||N of Items|
Findings and Analysis
Table 2: Low passenger waits time.
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Table 2 shows the results for low passenger waiting time as one of the methods of maintaining passenger travelling experiences to ensure effective profiling is maintained. According to the statistical results, 35.4% strongly agree that low waiting time is necessary to make traveller experience good, 25.4% agree about the same construct, 7.7% disagree, and 30.8% strongly disagree. However, cumulatively, 60.8% agree that waiting time is important to ensure passenger experiences are positively maintained.
|Table 3: Baggage screening.|
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Table 3 shows that baggage screening to be one of the methods that can be used to keep passenger satisfaction high while ensuring that positive profiling of passengers is maintained. According to the statistical results, 30% of the respondents strongly agree that baggage screening is critical for effective profiling, 25.4% agree while 24.6% disagree, and 19.2% strongly disagree. Cumulatively, 55.4% agree that baggage screening makes the profiling rules effective while maintaining a customer’s travelling experience.
Table 4: Pre-arrival profiling.
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Table 4 shows that 31.5% agree that pre-arrival screening is effective, 26.9% agree that pre-arrival screening is important, while 16.9% and 23.1% strongly disagree.
|Table 5: Fraction of baggage profiling.|
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Table 5 shows that 12.3% strongly agree that a fraction of baggage profiling should be done to ensure customer experience is maintained while ensuring that the profiling procedure is kept effective. The statistics shows that 23.8% agree that a fraction of baggage profiling should be done, while 28.5% disagree and 35.4% strongly disagree.
Table 6: Positive passenger profiling in accordance with aviation standards.
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Table 6 shows that 49.2% of the respondents strongly agree that positive passenger profiling is important to maintain positive the passenger experiences and 28.5% agree that positive passenger profiling is important. On the other hand, 20.8% disagree that Positive passenger profiling is important and 1% strongly disagree.
Table 7: Risk based profiling approach.
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Table 7 shows that 34.4% of the respondents are comfortable with a risk based profiling approach and 26.4% agree that they are comfortable with the approach. However, 7.2% disagree that they are comfortable with the approach and 30.8% strongly disagree that a risk based approach of profiling passengers to maintain a positive travelling experience is important.
Discussion and Conclusion
The findings show that 60% of the respondents agree that low passenger wait time is critical for maintaining the passenger travelling experience. On the other hand, the percentage who disagrees with the notion is 40% showing that most respondents supported the idea that passenger waiting time is critical in maintaining the passenger experience. Other respondents supported the idea of passenger pre-screening before they arrive at the check points.
On the other hand, 55.4% agree that baggage screening is important for effective profiling, and 58.4% agree that pre-arrival profiling was critical. However, 36.1% agree that a fraction of baggage profiling was important to make the process effective and 77% agreed that positive passenger profiling was in accordance with standards and crucial to ensure passenger security. On the other hand, 60.8% agreed that a risk based profiling approach was crucial to maintain passenger security while ensuring effectiveness in the profiling rules.
Typically, a passenger should wait at the airport terminal for less than 30 minutes as argued by researchers to reach the check-in point. A passenger who is aware of the short waiting time plans before arrival and when they arrive, the time taken should be as spread across different rules to ensure it is kept as minimal as possible for effectiveness. For instance, passengers who pose high risks get assured that no delays will occur at the airport screening terminals because less time is taken to screen the baggage. Here, the reliability of the profiling system enables the customer and the screening agency to predict the shortest time that it takes to profile a passenger with 99% effectiveness.
On the other hand, airport baggage scanning inefficiencies can also be improved by using the risk based profiling approach. Here, high risk passengers who pose the greatest threats should be profiled to make sure that not all the baggage goes through the scanning machines without being checked again to reduce the waiting time. Risk based approach should focus on identifying people who need extra screening and implementing a system that processes people based on the risk category such as the use of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System). The program is able to detect patterns related to terrorism although it does not provide real-time information to evaluate the personal watch list of names.
It is recommended that further research should be conducted to determine how cost affects the effectiveness of profiling passengers. Here, pre-profiling can be done to reduce the waiting time and increase the scanning efficiency at the airport.
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