The events of September 11, 2001, have raised troubling questions regarding the reliability and security of American commercial air travel. This article applies the concepts and logic of high–reliability organizations to airport security operations. Contemporary decision theory is built on the logic of limited or buffered rationability and is based on the study of error–tolerant organizations. The concept of high–reliability organizations is based on the study of nearly error–free operations. For commercial air travel to be highly secure, there must be very high levels of technical competence and sustained performance; regular training; structure redundancy; collegial, decentralized authority patterns; processes that reward error discovery and correction; adequate and reliable funding; high mission valence; reliable and timely information; and protection from external interference in operations. These concepts are used to inform early–stage issues being faced by both local airports and the newly established Transportation Security Administration.