Express Lanes, Iris Scans Offer Faster Airport Security

A nationwide program - if it becomes optional - has strong support from organizations representing airline passengers.


TSA has "pretty limited resources," Chamberlain said. "This really helps you focus on the people or things that could be a threat because you're weeding out the folks who are willing to submit to a background check."

Chamberlain's organization is coordinating the efforts of airports to take the program national. But absent from that group is KCI.

"It's a great program and business travelers will applaud it loudly," said VanLoh, Kansas City aviation director. "But it is not needed at KCI."

Wait times at the KCI security screening checkpoints average only about six minutes during peak hours and three minutes at less-congested times. VanLoh said he expected even shorter waits once the restrooms were added to passenger waiting areas and passengers were not going through security multiple times.

VanLoh said that adding VIP security lanes at KCI would be costly because there are 11 security checkpoints.

By comparison, Orlando has two checkpoints, while St. Louis has four.

"We're very much interested in improving the customer-processing times in the TSA checkpoints," said Gerard Slay, deputy airport director at Lambert-St. Louis.

"We feel that it would be a big benefit for frequent travelers and business people who might be interested in paying for the card and the background check," he said.

If KCI does not implement the program, it could mean that area fliers would not be able to enroll in the program at the airport, Chamberlain said. But they could sign up at other participating airports and use the express lines in those cities, she said.

"If they are true road warriors and wanted to try to get the benefit at their destination airport, I think there would be opportunities to sign up," she said.

It is also possible that the companies selected to provide the service could go to private businesses to sign up frequent fliers. For example, mobile enrollment stations were set at some Orlando banks. But Chamberlain added that many details must be worked out before the program expanded.

A nationwide program - if it becomes optional - has strong support from organizations representing airline passengers.

"There are plenty of members of who feel strongly about their civil liberties and would never want to be a part of this program," said Bill Connors, executive director of the National Business Travel Association, a trade organization for more than 2,500 corporate and government travel planners.

"However, I probably have more people who would give samples of DNA and locks of their hair to save a few minutes going through the line."

The Air Transport Association, which lobbies for the airlines, needs more information before assessing how much the program would benefit passengers.

"It's got great potential, but until TSA identifies the security benefits to a passenger, it might be a difficult way to go," said Victoria Day, association spokesman.

"If you're a registered traveler do you need to remove your coat? Do you still need to remove your laptop? Do you still need to remove your shoes?"

The National Business Travelers Association sees airport security as a productivity issue. It is something that Michael Corbett, a forensic toxicologist from Toronto, can relate to.

"You never know what you are going to face at an airport, so you have to arrive hours in advance," he said. "As a business traveler, you want to optimize your time."

Kansas City Star


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