It’s taken a long time but a quicker, more efficient screening process at the nation’s airports looks to be coming into focus. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is planning a new three-tier system for passenger and baggage screening that taps features of ongoing programs to streamline the process.
Based on elements of the best parts of the existing Secure Flight and TSA PreCheck programs, the new system is “designed to increase the number of airline passengers who may be eligible for expedited screening,” says a report in Travel Weekly.
Using that information, air travelers will be classified into three tiers — expedited, standard or enhanced — with each level requiring different procedures and qualifiers. The current system treats all travelers the same.
Under the new system, low risk travelers would be directed to the lanes now used for TSA’s PreCheck program. Shoes and belts stay on. Laptops remain in cases.
Passengers would be screened at the time of booking, and the level of required screening would be embedded in the barcode of the traveler’s boarding pass.
PreCheck expands this year to 100 U.S. airports. This Fall, anyone can join by going through a background check. Participants allow their fingerprints to be file. The anticipated fee is $85.
Is your flight in 30 minutes or 45? You don’t have time to look at your boarding pass, so you hustle as fast as you can, awkwardly managing your oversized carry-on which you know that you are going to get scolded for. When you get to security, instead of being waved through you are turned right back around and sent off to the check-in gate. You won’t be making your plane, and the pilot of your flight knows it.
Creepy or helpful?
While it might feel Big Brotherish, Heathrow Airport’s new “positive boarding” initiative is intended to help not only keep flights on time, but also ensure that passengers have up to date information to know how much they need to hustle or not.
When a passenger passes through a security checkpoint now, individual information about that passenger will pop up on the screen, showing which flight they are on and whether or not they are going to be able to make it. Passengers who are too late will be turned around, and the information will be passed along to the airline so that they can immediately begin removing the passenger’s bag.Although Heathrow claims it’s the first technology of its kind, tracking passengers is nothing new. In Italy, a couple of airports track Bluetooth signals, and SITA is a known service that provides real-time tracking software and line management.
This all might sound like an excessive use of technology, but Heathrow claims that in the first week of using its new service, 35,000 passengers used the positive boarding technology as part of their trip. Data shows that of the airlines using the technology, 44% of the flights had passengers who could have delayed the final departure. 10 passengers who were running very late were turned around and told they didn’t have the time to make it through security. Those 10 passengers probably weren’t too happy, but I’m sure that the passengers on the flights that departed promptly were satisfied. All the more reason to give yourself ample time to get to the airport and board your plane.