Check out a great article by David Pogue in Scientific American, "The TSA's Dumb Air-Security Rules Are Not Based on Science: Outdated screening rules aren't making for safer skies -- just longer lines."
Having flown from Portland to Indiana and back recently, I agree with everything Pogue says. Getting through airport security is deeply irritating, but I wouldn't mind if the screening made scientific, logical, and reasonable sense.
But it doesn't. Here's some examples from Pogue's piece:
Laptops have to come out of their bags and lie flat in a plastic tub—but not tablets, phones, Kindles, cameras or portable game consoles. Why the distinction? ...For example, according to the TSA, the 11-inch model of the MacBook Air is fine to leave in your bag, but the 13-inch model must be removed.
...Then there are the airport checkpoints, where the old metal detectors are being replaced by millimeter-wave and backscatter scanners... With these machines, we trade convenience for security. But look—if we're going to adapt a “security at any cost to convenience” policy, why not prohibit all luggage and require everyone to fly naked?
...Finally, there's the Federal Aviation Administration rule that all electronics, even headphones and e-book readers, have to be turned off during takeoff and landing, allegedly to prevent interference with the plane's navigation systems.
But the scientific evidence for this worry is sketchy. Some devices emit signals that could theoretically affect an aircraft's electronics. Yet “there have never been any reported accidents from these kinds of devices on planes,” FAA spokesperson Les Dorr told the New York Times last year. Once again, irrational fear, not solid science, is dictating policy for millions of travelers.
...I shouldn't mention how you can't have more than 3.4 ounces of liquid in a container, but you (and the group you are with) can bring lots of those little containers. Or how a full container of liquid is okay if you say that it's baby formula. Or that you have to throw away a seven-ounce toothpaste tube even if it's 80 percent empty. Or how kids who are 12 years old and younger no longer have to remove their shoes.
Or how all of this is focused on preventing a terrorist attack on a plane of 100 people—while far less attention is paid to far more populated targets, such as train stations, theaters, sports arenas and, yes, airports.