In December, the TSA started allowing passengers to bring scissors with blades smaller than 4 inches through security checkpoints. Screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers and other small tools, 7 inches or less, also now are allowed. TSA officials say that frees up workers to focus more on explosives detection.
TSA also is training security employees to engage some fliers in conversation to observe their behavior and decide whether they should undergo secondary screening.
John Frenaye, a travel columnist for www.tripso.com and a travel agency owner in Annapolis, Md., said Israel's El Al airline has successfully used a program like that. But he questions whether TSA employees have the skills to pick up cues about a person's mental state.
"They've had marginal training to do the job as it stands, and now you want to have them making a determination that someone's eye movements are a little bit shady?" he asked. "That seems like a professional interrogator's job, rather than a screener's job."