The Transportation Security Administration may have found a way to make the airport security process a little quicker, courtesy of some high-tech scanners.
The new full-size Computed Tomography (CT) x-ray systems in question create 3D images of carry-on items, detecting weapons, explosives, and other prohibited items more accurately than current scanners—similar to what hospitals use to look at patients’ internal organs. The new technology will hopefully allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their luggage, speeding up the oftentimes sluggish security lines.
While the scanners are currently in the ordering stage, the agency hopes to start installing and deploying them in U.S. airports this summer.
“These [orders] are another important step in enhancing aviation security,” said TSA administrator David Pekoske in a statement. “They provide our dedicated frontline officers with one of the best tools available to screen passenger carry-on items and also improves the passenger experience by allowing passengers to keep more items in their carry-on bags during the screening process.”
TSA will order 469 base and 469 full-size CT x-ray systems, the latter of which feature fully automated screening lanes and automated bin return. All in all, the new scanners will cost about $781.2 million.
“In the future, the goal is to keep laptops and 3-1-1 liquids inside of the bag during checkpoint screening,” TSA stated in its “Computed Tomography” explainer.
While we wait for this futuristic technology to hit airports, there are a few measures travelers can take now to cut down security wait times. TSA PreCheck already allows passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their carry-on bags and keep on their shoes, saving precious minutes in hectic lines. The service costs $85 to sign up and $70 to renew (membership lasts five years).
Clear is another option, although the service is currently only offered at a few dozen airports. The program lets passengers check in at designated kiosks using facial recognition and fingerprint scans, as opposed to showing ID at the security checkpoints. Once the machine matches your identity with the boarding pass, an agent will whisk you to the front of the security line. Membership costs $179 per year, and you can sign up on the Clear website. (If you use the promo code “AFF149” you can get Clear for $149 for 12 months.)