While the rise of technology has allowed the aviation industry to incorporate self-service and online speed-ups into many parts of the flying process, the security screening one needs to go through before going to the gate is not a process that many see as something they can do themselves.
The idea of travelers scanning their own bags and then checking to see that there’s nothing hazardous inside seems like something out of a comedy movie.
But even so, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it will be launching a self-service security screening at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas next month.
A traveler gets ready to pass his bag through security screening at an airport.
Just ‘like self-ordering kiosks,’ TSA says of new security screening plans
“Like self-ordering kiosks at fast food and sit-down restaurants, self-service screening allows passengers in the Trusted Traveler Program to complete the security screening process on their own,” Dr. John Fortune, Manager of Screening at Speed Program at the TSA, said in a statement. “Travelers will use passenger and carry-on screening systems at individual consoles or screening lanes themselves, reducing the number of pat downs and bag inspections TSOs need to perform and freeing their time to be reallocated to the busier aspects of screening operations.”
According to the TSA’s descriptions and renderings of the program, travelers will pass through a security screening capsule that uses facial recognition technology to identify the traveler who then passes through a pod where they send any bags, shoes and other through the screening tube and then pass through the full-body scanner with “minimal to no assistance” from a human. Use of TSA staff will be maximized to assist travelers who are having trouble and screen what is passing through the scanner for dangerous items from a computer (that part travelers will not be able to do themselves!).
‘The airport security experience that we’ve all come to know could soon look and feel a lot different…’
Designed for low-risk travelers who have either TSA PreCheck or CLEAR, the new self-service security system will go through its pilot tests in January 2024 — some of the travelers with CLEAR will be randomly selected to go through the new screening as they go to check in for their flight.
Airports slated to receive similar technology in the coming months include Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Phoenix Sky Habror International Airport (PHX), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Miami International Airport (MIA).
Self-serve security technology is currently being developed at lightning speed in order to speed up the screening process and reduce the staff needed as the number of passengers who pass through the country’s airports continues to increase — this year, the TSA expects to screen a record 30 million travelers in the month between the end of Thanksgiving and the new year.
“We are very excited to see how far these capabilities have come in a relatively short amount of time,” TSA Innovation Task Force’s Branch Manager Christina Peach said in a statement. “The airport security experience that we’ve all come to know could soon look and feel a lot different — in a very good way — for both passengers and TSOs.”