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I have just come back from a short trip to Italy and I was shocked to find some very lacking security practices at the airport I used to leave the country. I'm sure the things I noticed are all "personal" skills and wouldn't be due to lack of financial means or something similar. That's why I would like to report this somewhere.

It turns out this is somewhat diffcult to google, mainly because of the report part.

So in general, for all airports: Is there a specific site where I can leave a hint? Is it even sensible to report something like this or should I let them be?

I know levels of security can vary from airport to airport as was touched on in this question but there are mandatory standards, right? What can I do if I find a violation of those?

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    There can't possibly be one single site for all airports in all countries. Security standards also vary between countries. But you could look up the agency responsible for security at a specific airport, and contact them. – Nate Eldredge May 26 '15 at 20:57
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    There is a minimum level of security required for all airports in the Schengen zone. The European Commission has authority to investigate breaches, as it did to the embarrassment of Frankfurt airport last December. However, I have no idea if there is any procedure to report suspected problems to them, I suspect not. – Calchas May 26 '15 at 22:23
  • In case you left from Rome (Fiumicino or Ciampino), this page has the email address of the Security Training Center (formazionesicurezza@adr.it). That's the best I've been able to find on-line for these airports. – Walter Tross May 29 '15 at 22:52
  • @Calchas Actually, I don't think there is any rule in the Schengen acquis specifically about airport security. There are EU rules about airport security but I think those apply to the UK as well. – Relaxed May 30 '15 at 22:50
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    From a purely pragmatic perspective, I would let this be. Security authorities do not always act kindly towards people reporting problems with their systems, and so may make trouble for you. Additionally, unless you are a professional in the field you are unlikely to be aware of the full situation/context or objectives for what you observed. – Flyto May 31 '15 at 4:09
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First stop should be the organisation carrying the checks or the airport itself. Just look at their website if you can find an address or web form to give feedback. Even if you feel compelled to escalate the complaint, send a copy to them. They might ignore it but at least you would give them a chance to act quickly, which is best for everybody.

If the problem is really with a few specific people, they are also the only ones who might possibly do something. There are several regulators overseeing aviation security in general but they won't micro-manage contractors or airport personnel. What they can do is put pressure on the airport to get its act together if there are regular complaints.

The next step would therefore be to contact the national regulation agency, as explained by MikFoxtrot. In Italy, it's called ENAC. (Incidentally, this webpage includes a list of all civil aviation authorities in the EU).

In the European Union, the rules regarding safety inspections are increasingly defined at the EU-level. Consequently, you could also write directly to the EU commission, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport or perhaps to ESEA.They are even less likely to act on a single report but the Commission gets many letters from people pointing out various breaches of EU law and does take them into account when initiating further action.

That said, it's very presumptuous to consider that you are able to apportion blame and should personally do something to discipline the people carrying out the checks based on a single casual observation. You really know nothing about the context, their work or their life. And in any case, it's the role of the organisation managing the safety inspections to organise training or enforce consistent standards so if the problem is really serious, it's probably the result of systematic deficiencies with the culture, procedures or available resources, even if you had the feeling that enough personnel was present on that day.

Furthermore, respected experts like Bruce Schneier consider that airport security is mostly for show and that responding to specific tactics by ever tightening inspections is a completely wrong-headed strategy to fight terror. Besides, the probability of some form of attack (which is what those inspections are ostensibly about) happening on any one flight is incredibly small. Consequently, even if the inspections were appallingly bad, this is nothing to be “shocked” about. My answer to your last question would therefore be to let all this be and relax.

  • Very true and very well written. I should probably have stressed the fact that I just wanted to help, not blame a bit more – avalancha Jun 2 '15 at 10:29
  • However, although I agree on the "for show" part I must say a) as long as the rules are there they must be obeyed b) malpractices like overthrowing travelers' lugguage could compromise forensics if a criminal event were to occur c) deficiencies which are clearly noticeable could (and did) unsettle people – avalancha Jun 2 '15 at 10:36
  • Your username clearly shows how relaxed you would be about it ;D – Jan Nov 15 '16 at 15:52
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I suggest that you drop an email to the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, ENAC; their contact details appear here. They carry the legal authority above whoever runs the airport. They are required by ICAO to ensure that the level of aviation security is sufficient, as dictated by Annex 17:

3.4 Quality Control

3.4.4 Appropriate authorities must develop, implement and maintain a quality control programme to determine compliance of the programme.

3.4.7 Managements setting of priorities and organization of the quality control programme will be carried out as an independent entity.

I don't generally think the airport will have that great ambition or routines to improve their own procedures, especially when it is a part of the airport operator itself. If it's approved, it's alright: Retraining costs money and is time-consuming. The consequences of non-compliance are seldom if ever visible.

  • What do you mean by ambition? – JoErNanO May 30 '15 at 22:29
  • @JoErNanO I don't think the airport staff would to great and reliable extent fairly audit themselves and do retraining, depending on how their management structure is set up. All of that would be expensive and time-consuming, so they'd rather let somebody else tell them when to shape up. Aside from that, they have a self-interest in keeping costs low and passenger processing efficient. – InFlightEntertainment May 30 '15 at 22:41
  • I don't find the analogy particularly compelling. I have met many restaurant workers who were genuinely concerned about hygiene, beyond any fear of inspections or management pressure. Actually, I have met many restaurant workers – not necessarily in the fast food sector, obviously – who took pride in trying to do their work properly and meet the standards they learned during their training and felt restrained by their hierarchy (e.g. with respects to the quality of the ingredients they were able to use). – Relaxed May 30 '15 at 23:19
  • OTOH, some people do cut corners or simply don't know better but then I would think oversight from some official authority is needed to improve things. Why exactly would “corporate” be more efficient or diligent than restaurant managers or the workers themselves? – Relaxed May 30 '15 at 23:19
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    @Relaxed didn't mean it that harsh; some employees are indeed very diligent. But in this kind of repetitive environment things are bound to slip especially when consequences are seldom visible and it requires somebody without having to do extra work (i.e. external inspector) who is interested in their reputation to make sure compliance is sustained. – InFlightEntertainment May 30 '15 at 23:34
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No need to report in anywhere. If you really believe the security flaw is real and can be exploited for nefarious uses, simply publish it anonymously online (ideally through TOR) on an aviation-themed website and it will be probably be fixed within a few days. Unless the problem is so bad it literally lets you board a plane with explosives in your bag, it probably won't cause any issues while it's within the public view.

Publicity is the quickest way of closing security loopholes, unless the overseeing organization specifically encourages to report security flaws and is known for quickly reacting to such reports. A random airport in Italy is probably not that kind of an organization.

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