The busy summer travel season means a new round of stories cataloging Transportation Security Administration excesses. In contrast to the American techno-centric approach to air travel security, Israel’s El Al airlines – often cited as a model of airline safety – uses a system of rapid human-administered profiling to identify suspicious characteristics among embarking passengers.
While the exact cues for which El Al security screens have never been published, Kentucky resident Julie Rains believes she knows the behavioral patterns used by El Al to identify suspicious passengers. In 1988 she underwent a training course administered by ICTS, El Al’s own security training firm. Based on her experience, and subsequent research, she has identified a dozen behavioral traits for which an El Al screener likely watches during a 30-second pre-boarding questioning of embarking passengers. Travelers whose behavior matches two or more signs will be singled out for a secondary, intensive search and questioning. (In addition to signs outlined in the chart, traveling on a passport issued by a “suspicious” country may automatically qualify one for secondary screening.)