Saturday, February 16, 2008

What is Your Lane? Go at Your Own Pace in Salt Lake City

You may have read or heard about a new pilot program in Salt Lake City this weekend that enables passengers to go through security at their own pace.

Here's the information from the TSA website: Signage that you'll see at Salt Lake City AirportAt TSA we are piloting a variety of innovations at the checkpoint to improve security by focusing on people, technology and process.

In the process arena, TSA launched a self-select lane pilot this week in Salt Lake City, Utah. The self-select lane is aimed at enabling travelers to select a lane customized to their pace. Because the pilot is in a region of the country where skiing is a way of life, TSA modeled the lanes after well-known ski icons: green for beginners, blue for intermediate and black for expert.

In the TSA version, the green lane is for families traveling with children or people who need special assistance. These folks may not travel that often and need extra help with the procedures and assistance navigating security. The blue lane is for casual travelers who are somewhat familiar with the procedures and have multiple carry-ons. The expert, or black diamond lane is for those who know the procedures well and always arrive at the checkpoint with appropriate items removed and limited carry-on luggage. The security standard is the same no matter what lane you choose. However, efficiency is increased by allowing passengers to proceed at their own pace.

"We are enhancing security by creating a less stressful experience. This enables our officers to provide better support to the people who need it most, while others are able to navigate the checkpoint more expeditiously," said Earl Morris, TSA federal security director at Salt Lake. "Passengers will ultimately determine the success of the pilot."

TSA is also testing the black diamond concept at Denver International Airport in coming weeks. This is one of many innovations that passengers will see tested regionally in 2008. For instance in Houston, TSA is partnering with Continental Airlines to pilot a paperless boarding pass; in Memphis, security officers are using wireless whisper headsets to enhance communications between behavior detection officers and travel document checkers; and in Burbank, Calif., there is a customized lane for people with only one carry-on item. Stay tuned for more to come.

If you've experienced any of TSA's regional innovations in your travels, share your feedback at