We have all heard the reports of checkpoint screening led by the TSA failing at rates as high as 90%. During the AAAE/TSA/DHS Annual Aviation Security Summit in Washington DC in December 2017, industry professionals continued to debate methodology to improve our commercial aviation security screening protocols. In 2018, we will continue to see changes in checkpoint operations founded primarily in risk-based assessment of passengers and technology improvements.
Unfortunately, what we probably will not see in our immediate future is a fully re-imagined vision of screening, but at least the efficiencies in moving people through the lines may improve. The fact is that we are still pretty much doing screening in the same manner as we have done it since 1973. We now just have different equipment and different personnel to manage more threats. It is important to note that the checkpoint of the future has been reimagined numerous times by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), TSA and others without movement towards implementation. What is most likely to occur in the is the continued separation of passengers based on risk assessments.
The trend that began with PreCheck and it’s sister programs will continue to provide preferential treatment to US judges and other “trusted” populations. Those not within this populace, specifically the people that the TSA knows the least about, will get the “full meal deal” when it comes to the screening process, meaning the most sophisticated scanning machines for their belongings, body imager screening and advanced pat downs will continue.
Technology upgrades do appear to be an emphasis when considering wait times for passenger screening checkpoints. Likely to roll out to more airports in 2018 are the Automated Screening Lanes. These are the lanes with the large bins that roll along through the x-ray machine on their own. They have been piloted at several airport checkpoints including the busy Atlanta/Hartsfield airport, where screening wait times are down as a result.
Checkpoint screening investments toward improvement will continue to be a debate throughout the year. To follow the progress over this debate, sign up for email notifications.