Self-Service for Airport Security? It’s Happening in Las Vegas.


Self-Service for Airport Security? It’s Happening in Las Vegas.

As most air travelers can attest, the experience at an airport’s security checkpoint can be far from serene. There are many rules — often shouted by Transportation Security Administration officers — about what you can bring with you, how to array your belongings and where to stand. Lines can be painfully long and anxieties sky high. And throughout the process, there are security officers.

But at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, a new kind of security screening, unveiled by the T.S.A. on Wednesday, is led by the passenger themselves.

The system, which uses video monitors, facial recognition software and body scanners, is not about shaving time off the travel journey, but about improving the overall passenger experience, said Christina Peach, a deputy assistant administrator for requirements and capabilities at the T.S.A.

“Individuals want to be able to complete the screening process at their own pace and with minimal interaction with our officers,” she said.

The new pilot program officially opens to the public on March 11. Here’s what to know.

The self-service screening process, which is only available for travelers with T.S.A. PreCheck clearance, will be available at two security lanes within the “Innovation Checkpoint” at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. (The airport tests emerging technologies and new processes at six “Innovation Checkpoint” lanes.)

Traditional security screening will continue to be available for passengers.

As a traveler approaches the security lanes, a screen will display instructions about how to arrange personal belongings in bins and what possessions to remove (electronics and belts, for example). With a camera feature on a small tablet, facial recognition technology will be used first to verify your identity.

Then, you’ll go to a divestment station, the area by the conveyor belt where you drop your belongings and put them in a bin. There are two stations per lane, allowing two passengers to use the lane simultaneously. Video monitors at each station will play step-by-step instructions. The aim is to get one bin per passenger, Ms. Peach said.

You’ll push your bin to the conveyor belt, which then moves the bin to be scanned. After this, you will step through a body scanner that resembles a glass box.

If a bin is flagged, it is routed down a different path and a T.S.A. officer will conduct a search.

Once you collect your bag, you can leave the empty bin and it will move automatically back to the stack.

T.S.A. personnel will still be on hand, but not as many of them will be manning the screening lanes. On any given day, there are usually between 10 to 15 officers working at the Innovation Checkpoint’s six lanes, Ms. Peach said.

Now, some can be remote. Passengers who need extra help can push a button to speak to an officer by video monitor, and officers will still handle security pat-downs and extra bag checks.

It will vary, based on the individual passenger’s pace, Ms. Peach said.

The initial pilot is expected to run for several months. Ms. Peach stressed that it’s a prototype and that the agency will be collecting data and passenger feedback.

Some elements of the system, however, may eventually trickle out to checkpoints across the country, she said.

T.S.A. officers will always be working at security checkpoints, Ms. Peach said, either standing by the passengers or working in remote screening locations.

“The officers are their most valuable assets,” she said of the government agency. “It really is having the officer as a part of the system, even if they’re maybe not as visible.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024.

CrowdStrike is grabbing headlines but Luxaviation is busy electrifying airports

A problem with CrowdStrike crippled Microsoft systems and grounded planes at airports around the world…

Mack MD Electric semi truck gets to work at PITT OHIO fleet

Logistics and LTL shipping providers PITT OHIO are adding four Mack MD Electric commercial trucks…

CNH puts CASE, New Holland electric wheel loader into production

Just weeks after its official unveiling, CNH inaugurated a new production line for the company’s…