TSA’s ‘Black Diamond’ program is spreading, debuts in Boston tomorrow

Last month, Aaron brought us news of the Transportation Security Administration’s so-called Black Diamond program, aimed at making the security process at airports a bit more enjoyable.

While there is probably no initiative in this world that could truly accomplish that goal, it seems like Black Diamond is catching on. It debuted at Salt Lake City International last month. Then it turned up at Denver International. Now the TSA is going to begin testing it tomorrow at Boston’s Logan International Airport, a place where lines go to grow.

A quick recap: Black Diamond applies the basic delineations of ski trails to security lines, with the green line for travel newbies, the intermediate line for more frequent travelers and the black diamond line for “travel experts,” whoever those are. The thinking is that if people correctly choose the appropriate line, the entire security process will go quicker.

Am I the only one who wonders how this could ever really work? I mean, perhaps there’s something to it if it continues to pop up at other airports, as the TSA promises. But I’m skeptical. Sure, it’s catchy, but it appears to outright ignore one of the first principles of travel, if not to say human nature: We will always seek out the shorter line.

So, picture the blue line bogged down with some less experienced travelers, fumbling for their belts or whatever. Meanwhile that black line is wide open, the savvy travel pros flying through. Who isn’t going to ditch the blue line and jump to that shorter line to get through quicker? I sure would. Hell, people will probably try to ditch the green line if it’s moving at a crawl.

Who really is a travel expert, anyway? And “multiple carry-ons”? Don’t airlines limit those anyway?

The ski analogy is easy to comprehend. But those of us who are skiers have all been confronted with the novice skier who inexplicably winds up on the wrong trail. Just as there’s no one to stop that from happening on the mountain, there’s really no way to control that in airports.

What does everyone else think?