SLC airport's test of faster security lines declared success
A trial program to more quickly move passengers through security at Salt Lake City International Airport has worked so well it will be expanded to six more airports by the end of April, then possibly to the rest of the country.
The test, which allows travelers to choose which security line they go through based on how comfortable and familiar they are with screening procedures by the Transportation Security Administration has cut wait times by 35 percent since the trial began last month, agency spokesman Dwayne Baird said Wednesday.
"We've discovered that passenger satisfaction has gone up considerably in the sense that we have people able to get through the checkpoint more comfortably."
Instead of a single serpentine security lane leading up to TSA's checkpoints in Terminal One, passengers have a choice of three lanes. Using symbols similar to the signs marking trails at Utah's ski resorts, TSA has set up a green-circle lane for slower-moving folks, such as families with children and people who need special assistance.
The blue-square lane is for casual travelers who are fairly familiar with security procedures and have more than one carry-on bag. The expert, or black diamond lane, is for travelers who know the drill well, have few carry-on bags and aren't carrying banned objects.
"It was nice. There was nobody else there," said Brian Black, who whisked through the expert lane to the screening machines and was racing to catch a plane to Dallas. "Today, it took only about five to 10 minutes. But I've been in a security line before for 45 minutes. It has potential to be much faster."
Abby and Jeff McIntier, on the other hand, were happy for the relaxed pace in the family-friendly green lane. There were no traveling salesmen or A-type personalities impatiently tapping their toes. And other children were crawling about for 2-year-old Max to "act crazy" with, Abby McIntier said.
"It was [fast], actually, and I would attribute it to the fact that we were able to go in a line for families. That made things convenient for us," Jeff McIntier said.
TSA launched the trial Feb. 15 at Salt Lake City and Denver International airports after reading suggestions from travelers made at the agency's blog site. The experiment will be rolled out at a half-dozen more airports over the next seven weeks, but TSA won't identify them until airport officials and all the airlines serving the airports sign on.
Getting permission to run the experiment in Salt Lake required the approval of airport executives and 13 airlines.
"Even though it's early on, it's speeding up the [traveler's] experience, or at least making it more convenient," said airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann.
* To view the Transportation Security Administration's blog, visit http://www.tsa.gov and go to the Evolution of Security link.