Self-service security screening is coming to airports, but PreCheck passengers are getting priority

  • A self-service TSA screening model may be making its way to an airport near you.

  • A pilot program will roll out in January at the Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

  • The programs are meant to expedite screening while improving safety, the DHS said in a press release.

As officials at the Transportation Security Administration grapple with air travel resuming at pre-pandemic levels, the Department of Homeland Security is testing out self-service screening options.

Of course, customers with TSA PreCheck get first dibs.

In January, passengers traveling through Las Vegas, Nevada's Harry Reid International Airport will be the first to test out a pilot of the "Screening at Speed Program," the DHS announced in a press release.

"Like self-ordering kiosks at fast food and sit-down restaurants, self-service screening allows passengers in the Trusted Traveler Program to complete the security screening process on their own," John Fortune, the program's manager, said in the press release. "Travelers will use passenger and carry-on screening systems at individual consoles or screening lanes themselves, reducing the number of pat downs and bag inspections" for Transportation Security Officers.

The program will allow passengers to move through the screening "at their own pace" while minimizing in-person contact between officers and passengers, Fortune said. The DHS has awarded contracts to three US companies that are developing prototypes and working with the TSA.

Selected passengers traveling through the Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas in January will test out the PAX MX2 prototype by the company Vanderlande, according to the DHS press release.

Similar to existing security equipment, passengers will place their bags on a conveyance system, but they will have the help of a video monitor with detailed instructions, as well as a help button to connect with a live security agent. Then they will go through a screening portal with automatic entry and exit doors, the latter of which will not open until the passenger has successfully cleared the screening. The entry doors will reopen so passengers can empty forgotten items from their pockets if needed.

"The airport security experience that we've all come to know could soon look and feel a lot different—in a very good way—for both passengers and TSOs," said Christina Peach, a branch manager for the TSA's Innovation Task Force.

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