The long security lines at our nation’s airports have made travel a nightmare, but that may improve thanks to a successful idea started by a private airline that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now running with.
Just one month ago, we reported on the “innovation lanes” that Delta Airlines was experimenting with to increase speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of the screening process for passengers and carry-on luggage at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
Now, it appears the lanes are so effective the TSA is expanding new methods though a partnership with American Airlines (AA) to bring automated screening lanes and more powerful computer scanners to select AA hubs nationwide. The lanes are coming to Chicago’s O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, L.A., and Miami. Phoenix will also get updated scanning equipment by the end of the year.
The up to date technology includes automated belts that shoot bins back to the queue after luggage has been screened – eliminating the need for TSA agents to tote stacks of bins from one end of the security lines to the other. Questionable bags can be separated out for more thorough screening instead of holding up all bins behind them. And new 3D computer tomography (CT) scanners can allow passengers to leave gels, liquids, and even laptops in their carry-ons instead of separating them out, which should reduce time and extra bins.
All of these improvements are expected to shave 30 percent off the time passengers spend in security lines.
The TSA thinks they’ve struck gold:
“Our foremost priority is the security of the traveling public,” said TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger. “To ensure that we remain up-to-date in an evolving threat environment, TSA continues to test and deploy state-of-the-art technologies. This collaboration with American Airlines is an important step in enhancing the traveler experience while maintaining effective security.”
“We are proud to be working collaboratively with the TSA to support next generation screening technology at five of our hubs this fall,” said American Airlines Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom.”
At least innovation is winning out, and not surprisingly it’s the private sector leading the charge and the TSA riding shot-gun.
Major lines have suffered through complaints by their passengers of missed flights because of unfathomably long security lines. Let’s not forget that the lines are due just about entirely to the TSA’s failed plan to herd passengers into its Pre-Check program. They then cut workers and closed security lines expecting passengers to sign up in masse. When that didn’t happen, the TSA blamed passengers for flying and other factors, but neglected to take any blame themselves.
The TSA ought to jump on board with solutions to ease the headaches they caused. Sadly, we’re not seeing a reversal of TSA policy, but airlines are driving much-needed upgrades to security screening processes.
Perhaps instead of pushing for a new security line with the same old technology, the TSA should have updated their technology to improve the efficiency of all security processes to begin with.
Once again, we’re reminded that innovation doesn’t come from Washington. Often that’s where it goes to die.