Reader Mail : Which Airport Is Strictest [for security]?

A constant complaint from travelers is an inconsistent security and airline policy experience.  This week’s reader mail addresses a wide range of these inconsistencies.

This reader mail comes from Derek in Phoenix … who asks his question about security and carry-on policy in multiple parts. Derek asks

1) which airport strictest? like: nothing sharp, even if it’s plastic

2) which airport most flexible? like: leatherman (or something like it) in the cabin

3) which airline is the strictest? flexible?

Well Derek, since I am one person traveling in a global world, I sought out a few other travelers to get their opinions … so here goes

Q1) Which airport is the strictest [for security]

A1) Ben Gurion International Airport, serving Tel Aviv, Israel

Q2) Which airport is the most flexible [for security]

A2) You asked about who may allow a tool, like a Leatherman, on board … no commercial airport I know of, or any other travelers I asked know of either.  However the airports within Jamaica popped up more than any other destination … so I’ll go with the controlled by the Airports Authority of Jamaica as being the most flexible.

Q3a) Which airline is the strictest?

A3a) Israel’s El Al has the strictest security, hands down, no question, but when it comes to enforcing carry on policy, Spirit Airlines is the strictest, closely followed by Ryanair.

Q3b) Which airline is the most flexible?

A3b) The airline that appears to be the most flexible in carry on policy was tied at United Airlines and Alitalia.

There is no exact answer to this … except for El Al having the strictest security of all the airlines. Your experiences may vary.

One question I might add is this

Q) Which airport is the most inconsistent in its security?

A) Philadelphia International Airport … and this answer is likely to be agreed upon by many frequent flyers that use PHL often.

Happy Flying!


  1. My experience has been that smaller, regional airports tend to be very strict. Maybe they want to feel important. Also, my belt never sets the metal detector in major airports but does in some smaller regional ones.

  2. Thanks for including my questions in your blog. I had this experience recently out of Mesa, AZ. I flew out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway on Alligiant airways to MO. My wife and two kids attempted to do two checked bags and one carry-one per person. I have just given up on trying to fight with TSA, etc, and just throw EVERYTHING of remote “danger” in my my packed bag (chargers, power supplies, flashlites, dvd players, batteries, leatherman, etc).

    Running late (as usual), I dropped the wife, kids, and luggage at the gate, and drove to the remote car lot to store the van. I took my kids two car booster seats and my carry-on, hop the shuttle back to the gate.

    I went up to the TSA person checking ID’s before going thru security, and one of the airplane people came up to me, saying my wife took something out of my bag to stay under the 50lb limit.

    She took out the leatherman!

    I was shocked and stunned, not knowing what to immediately do. It was a gift and I didn’t want to throw it away and ALL the guards had seen it. It was NOT going to make it thru scanner. I was totally beside myself in frustration, exhaustion, sweating from the AZ heat, and all the literal rushing around.

    I was just about to just give in and threw it away, when the guard suggested I “try” and get it put back in the luggage. At that point, I said ok (whatever), because I figured by this time the luggage was already stored on the plane.

    I went thru security, and out on the tarmac to walk the ramp to the plane. The airline people took the car seats, tagged them, and placed them in the belly. I was able to catch up with family and proceeded to our seats.

    Once we landed in Springfield, MO, we went and got our bags and car seats. Leatherman was in the bag!

    I was able to relax, then.

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