It’s no secret that air travel can be a dizzying and frustrating experience that can sometimes require people to show up at the airport a full two hours before their flight. Part of the logistical nightmare stems from the fact that security checks these days — due to the 9/11 attacks and Richard Reid’s 2001 attempt to blow up an American Airlines flight with explosives hidden inside his sneaker — are incredibly tedious and often result in long lines that move along at a snail’s pace.
There may be hope, however, on the horizon. According to a report from Bloomberg, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently exploring new checkpoint technology that could allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their bags instead of having to remove them and have them examined separately.
The new technology is said to rely upon more advanced detection algorithms and 3-D imagery that will enable TSA employees to more precisely identify weapons, explosives, or other dangerous substances even when tucked away inside of luggage or embedded within electronic devices. The technology is called Computed Tomography (CT) and in addition to improving overall security, will also speed up the check-in process.
The Government Technology and Service’s Coalition’s Homeland Security website details what the new scanning technology brings to the table:
These systems use the same technology that has been screening checked baggage for years. Given certain threat conditions, these CT systems will allow passengers to leave items, such as electronics and foods, in their carry-on bags.
Unlike traditional X-ray scanners, checkpoint CT systems produce a 3-D image which a TSO can manipulate to get a better view of a bag’s contents. As a result, a checkpoint CT system often allows a TSO to clear items without having to open the carry-on bag, thus reducing a touchpoint (and a delay) in the process.
The TSA has already started obtaining these CT systems for testing, and at some point in the future, every screening checkpoint at airports around the country will likely have these upgraded scanning machines. Until then, the rollout will be measured as the TSA is still looking into the technology and has yet to put in a firm order for the machines.
The first rollout of these CT machines will reportedly be 15 systems at a handful of airports around the country. If the initial rollout is deemed to be a success, subsequent orders of 400 more machines will likely be made.
As a point of interest, the five airports with the worst security wait times in the US include Newark Liberty International, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami International, Baltimore-Washington International, and McCarran International in Las Vegas.
At peak travel hours, the wait time at Newark Liberty International can be as long as a full hour.