When on X-ray I call relatively few bag searches, and mostly for obvious items, such as knives and such, it amazes me still how many I find. But when we do a bag search, it is usually targeted on a specific item.
Sometimes we call for a search just because there is so much stuff in the bag that we just can’t see through it, the image may contain a threat, the null assumption is that the bag is a threat, unless I can prove that it isn’t.
When I need to go into your bag, I will wait for you to join me at the search table, I will not open it or remove any items unless you are there. When I go in I will be looking only for the item or items pointed out to me by the X-ray operator. Most often it is in fact nothing, at which point I close up the bag, or offer you the opportunity to do so. For me to remove an item it must be on our list of prohibited items, or pose an obvious threat.
If I take more than about 2 minutes in resolving the alarm I will have to answer to my supervisor, your bag is not the only one that needs my attention, and I am not interested in hassling you unnecessarily. I am not aware of more than a very few cases where a passenger missed a flight because of a delay caused by a bag search, and in none of these cases was the person at the airport on time, we will not rush the possess because you are late.
Just a note on how we work, we rotate through the positions on a half hour basis, I would typically work X-ray for one half, then bag search, then walk through metal detector, then hand wading, then back to X-ray. So in a typical day I will work all positions about 3 times. In which time I will see about 1000 to 1200 passengers through my lane.