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The TSA’s new experiment: Self-service security checks

Atlanta CNN  —  Self-checkout annoys many grocery shoppers and causes problems that are prompting numerous major retailers to pull back on using it. But that’s not stopping the Transportation Security Administration from testing a self-service screening system at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas later this month. TSA PreCheck passengers at LAS “will be the first travelers to have the option to use the new system starting in mid-March, when the testing begins,” said a TSA news release. “The prototype has a video monitor that provides step-by-step instructions for passengers to complete screening at their own pace,” it added. After passengers complete “the required screening process and are cleared for travel, automated exit doors open so travelers can gather their belongings and head to their flights.” “While there is minimal assistance from Transportation Security Officers (TSO), TSOs will be available for assistance as needed,” according to the release. “TSA and S&T will carefully study the results of this assessment before they announce a timeline for any future deployment of this prototype to other checkpoint lanes or at other airports.” After a sharp drop in flying and screening during the early years of the pandemic, the agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, is dealing with an increase in the number of passenger screenings. TSA has screened 143 million people at its checkpoints so far this year, which is typically a slow period for US air travel. That’s up 8 million, or 6% from the same period last year. During the six-week holiday travel period from the weekend before Thanksgiving through the end of 2023, it screened 106 million, up 10% from a year earlier, and up 2% from the same time in 2019, ahead of the pandemic. Travelers have flocked to Las Vegas in record numbers in the last year. According to TSA, the busiest day ever for TSA screening operations at the city’s airport was on October 29, 2023, when the agency screened 103,400 passengers. The second busiest day for TSA operations at LAS was Sunday, November 5, 2023, when 103,285 were screened. “The number of airline passengers continues to increase year-over-year, creating a need for innovative screening solutions that enhance transportation security and make traveling more efficient,” said Dimitri Kusnezov, Department of Homeland Security under secretary for science and technology.