TSA Check: Self-Service Checkpoints And Fewer Pat-Downs? Yes, Please.
Travelers are already accustomed to using self-service kiosks to check in at the airport and pick up their rental cars. Now the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration are exploring the feasibility of a passenger self-screening solution at airport security checkpoints for TSA PreCheck members.
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According to a new Request for Information (RFI) posted by the Department of Homeland Security, the government has embraced “a future vision for increasing aviation security effectiveness from curb to gate while dramatically reducing wait times and improving the passenger experience.” To enable this vision, the TSA’s Innovation Task Force is considering the development of a passenger self-screening solution to transform TSA PreCheck, the expedited airport security clearing program.
Beyond the overarching mandate of a self-screening system that would increase throughput at security checkpoints, the RFI calls for a solution that possesses three key criteria. The first and most important requirement is that “the security posture is in no way reduced” compared to the current walk-through detection system used by TSA PreCheck.
Second, the system will handle both on-person screening and the screening of personal property in a single step, compared to the two distinct steps that exist at airports today.
Third, passengers who receive an alarm during the screening process will be informed of the issue and have the opportunity to resolve it.
“The passenger will only be allowed to leave the divestiture station if they have been cleared by this solution. In instances where an alarm cannot be resolved through passenger divestment, a TSO may be necessary to adjudicate any unresolved alarms,” according to the RFI. In other words, TSA officers will only get involved if a passenger can’t resolve an issue on his or her own.
The TSA has been working on ways to increase enrollment in PreCheck, which began in 2013 and peaked in 2016 at 2.2 million new enrollees, falling far short of its goal of five million new members per year. There are currently more than 8.5 million PreCheck members, which is only about a third of the TSA’s previous projection of 25 million enrollments.
If successful, a self-screening solution would bring shorter lines and fewer pat-downs. And that may be just the selling point TSA PreCheck has been looking for all along.
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