Ralf Roletschek [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

How much collective time has been wasted taking our shoes off at the airport?

Short answer: Nearly 6 million hours are spent messing with shoes in airports each year.

Long answer: Hour long waits and lines out the door for airport screening checkpoints have made headlines recently [1], and it makes me wonder what the true cost of airport security is. But not in terms of lives saved by way of terrorists thwarted, or in terms of tax dollars spent on fancy machines and employee salaries – that’s all been done. I wonder what we’re spending, in terms of our own time, waiting in line. Let’s make this simple – what is the cost of taking off our shoes at airport screening checkpoints?


Some people fly weekly, some people fly never. Some people have huge boots that are a hassle, others wear flip flops. Let’s make some assumptions about the average person – often times that just means using the numbers about yourself and hoping you’re average.

The TSA estimates that it screened 708 million passengers in 2015 [2] which amounts to approximately one round trip flight, per American, per year. Now, assume it adds 30 seconds to the inspection to remove shoes, place them in the bin, and put them back on. These two annual inspections, for everyone, cost

708 million × 1 minute = 1346 years.

So we’re literally wasting a millennia each year fucking with our shoes in airports. This is about 11.8 million man hours wasted, and assuming all that time is worth a meager wage of $15/hour, it costs $177 million of our time every year just to screen shoes at airports.


The TSA thinks the solution is hiring more agents, while some airports are considering ditching the TSA altogether, in favor of private security. Whatever they end up doing, they better do it quick. Time is money, and we’re wasting it in line.

But I think the solution is simpler. Americans should pool our resources, and buy our own plane. With the time we save by keeping our shoes on, we can absolutely afford it.





image credit: Wikimedia Commons




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