As exciting as traveling is, having to go through airport security is by far one of those most dreadful parts of the journey. Even on a recent trip to Curacao where I was the only person in line at the checkpoint, I still found it bothersome to have to take out my laptop, soaps, shoes, belts, and what not.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is looking at a new way of tackling wait times and inconveniences at security gateways. Rather than just slapping on new technology to current checkpoints, they are trialing a new system which attempts to simplify the experience by streamlining some of the processes.
Dubbed the “Innovative Checkpoint”, the new screening line is located on the lower level of Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. McCarran was selected because of passenger diversity, and for the mere fact that the airport has sufficient space to trial the new set up.
“The Innovation Checkpoint at McCarran International Airport is an exciting initiative that provides TSA with the unique opportunity to demonstrate multiple solutions and capabilities by various vendors in one physical environment without interrupting current airport operations,” said Austin Gould, TSA Assistant Administrator for Requirements and Capabilities Analysis. “Our long-term vision is that this checkpoint will serve as an innovative sandbox for the entire agency to demonstrate new strategies and solutions that will ultimately increase security effectiveness, heighten the passenger experience, and deliver enhanced capabilities to our frontline personnel.”
The new line tackles the following three areas.
Rather than having to show your ID card or passport along with your boarding pass, passengers will simply have to have their ID card or passport scanned at the checkpoint entrace. The information will then be passed through the Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) database, which will immediately validate the authenticity of the provided credentials, and will also confirm whether or not the passenger is indeed flying on that day. It also lets the agent know whether or not the passenger has TSA PreCheck (for appropriate filtering).
Computerized tomography (CT) machines are slowly replacing the traditional bag scanners that we are used to. Thanks to its 3D imaging capabilities, removing laptops and liquids could soon be a thing of the past. The operator can easily and virtually manipulate their way through a bag rather than having to separate electronics and liquids which could otherwise be hidden from view in the older scanners.
While this may not particularly be a time saver, the Rohde & Schwarz enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology (eAIT) millimeter body scanner is definitely less claustrophobic than what we’re accustomed to. Passengers won’t have to raise their hands either, but rather extend them on each side with their palms facing backward. The open air design also allows for wheel-chair-bound travelers the ability to be scanned without having to get up from their seat.
The TSA has partnered with United Airlines to trial the new system. Passengers in Terminal 3 flying on Sundays through Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will go through the new screening line on the lower level, and will be prompted a day before about the change. They do however have the choice of still going through the regular scanners if they don’t feel comfortable with Innovative Checkpoint.