TSA is testing out a self-service screening system at Las Vegas airport


Consumers with TSA PreCheck will be the first ones to pilot the new program

Going through airport security might start to look a bit different pretty soon. 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) has announced it will pilot a new self-service security screening system at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

“We are constantly looking at innovative ways to enhance the passenger experience, while also improving security,” said David Pekoske, TSA administrator. “This self-service prototype allows our trusted travelers to complete the screening process at their own pace. 

“Testing at the Innovation Checkpoint in Las Vegas gives us an opportunity to collect valuable user data and insights, and explore opportunities to apply parts of the prototype to other airport security checkpoints.” 

How it works

TSA and the DHS S&T will begin putting this new prototype to the test in mid-March, with TSA PreCheck travelers going through Harry Reid airport getting the first crack at the self-service system. 

Going through the security line will follow much the same process as it does now, except travelers will be able to complete the process at their own pace. Upon entering the line, passengers will see a video monitor that shows detailed instructions on how to successfully make it through the self-service screening. 

While the system has been created to make it fully self-sufficient for travelers, TSA officers will be available throughout the area to help passengers, should any issues arise. TSA also explained that one of the primary goals is to cut down on the number of times travelers are pulled aside for in-depth searches by TSA agents. Instead, the prototype will help passengers correct any issues themselves. 

Once all steps have been completed, automatic doors will open that allow travelers to get to their gates and onto their flights. 

“The number of airline passengers continues to increase year-over-year, creating a need for innovative screening solutions that enhance transportation security and make traveling more efficient,” said Dimitri Kusnezov, DHS under secretary for Science & Technology. “At S&T, we are pushing the envelope with new technologies and concepts toward designing the airport of the future. Self-paced screening is one step toward building that future.” 

How will this affect consumers’ travel? 

Consumers are likely wondering how this news will affect their travel – both in terms of the time it takes to get through airport security, as well as the general safety and security of airline travel. Sheldon H. Jacobson, PhD, an air safety scientist at the University of Illinois, provided ConsumerAffairs with some insights on both accounts. 

"In the short term, there will be no speedup,” Dr. Jacobson said. “Over time, as the self-service system gets finetuned, it will be more efficient for PreCheck travelers.”

He added, “Since PreCheck passengers are the only ones eligible to use [the self-service screening system], their risk is already so low that any increased [security] risk will be negligible.”

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