The constitutionality of the airport screening search does not depend on consent but only on the passenger’s election to attempt entry into the secured area of the airport.
Airport screening searches are reasonable administrative searches because they are “conducted as part of a general regulatory scheme to prevent the carrying on of weapons and explosives and hijacking of aircraft.” The right to search is triggered by the subject opting to step into a secure area, rather than being based on a concept of ongoing consent or irrevocable implied consent. Mr. Aukai failed to provide government issued picture identification at the ticket counter and his boarding pass was marked “no ID,” thereby subjecting him to a more extensive search at the secondary screening station. Unfortunately for Mr. Aukai, in addition to having inadequate identification, he also had a smoking pipe and methamphetamine on his person. Despite his offer to forego his flight and leave the area in exchange for avoidance of the search, the agents searched him and found the contraband.