I have written about the benefits of having TSA Pre, a service that allows fliers to skip the regular long line at airport security and use the usually-shorter TSA Pre screening system, which doesn’t require us to take off our belts and shoes. I consider it a good bargain since I fly a lot, it only costs $85, and is good for five years.

But when I flew home from Las Vegas a week ago, I started wondering…

  • How come the magnetometer in the TSA Pre line doesn’t go off for my belt, but the ones in the regular line do?
  • Are the people in the regular screening line more likely to wear exploding Nikes?
  • Since the X-ray machine can see into my suitcase and backpack, why do I have to take my iPad and iPhone out and place them in a separate tray?

Most importantly, does anyone really believe that someone who intends to do something bad wouldn’t spend $85 to avoid the regular-line scrutiny? No, it’s just another day in the world of Airport Security Theater.