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The TSA is trying out self-checkout-style security screenings for the first time

Ana Altchek   

The TSA is trying out self-checkout-style security screenings for the first time
  • TSA is rolling out a self-service security check at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.
  • The new system will provide step-by-step instructions for passengers and could reduce pat-downs.

Self-service is coming to airports, and this time, it'll be in security form.

According to a TSA announcement published Wednesday, Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas will unveil a new self-service system for TSA PreCheck passengers later this month.

The technology was developed with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. It's the first of its kind to be launched in the US, TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers told Business Insider.

The self-service line has a digital screen that provides step-by-step instructions for passengers to do the screening on their own. If you need help, you can hit a button on the screen and a TSA employee will pop up virtually to provide assistance.

Once you put your belongings in the basket, you slide it on the conveyor belt and move on to the body scanner.

The scanner provides corrective feedback before the scan so that you can step out and resolve it. If the issue is not resolved in three attempts, a TSA officer will assist.

Once cleared, the automatic doors will open and you can pass through. Passengers can collect their belongings once they get to the other side.

The major difference with the new system will be the lack of staff crowding the area. Rather than 10-12 employees working behind the security counter, the check will have one officer at the body scanner and one at the back of the lane to conduct physical bag checks.

There will also be two remote TSA officers on standby to respond to traveler questions and two officers conducting remote X-ray screening.

The TSA employees will still oversee the process and make sure security protocols are being properly followed. The same screening standards will be applied to the self-screening lane, TSA said in the press release.

The goal is to provide an autonomous screening process that allows passengers to resolve their own alarm issues without requiring a pat down or additional screening, according to the press release. The self-service security check isn't required and at LAS, a regular TSA PreCheck lane is located adjacent to the system, according to TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers.

For example, you'll be able to see your right arm light up and you can then remove the watch that sounded the alarm, rather than have a TSA employee pat down your whole body.

S&T Undersecretary Dimitri Kusnezov said in the announcement that with the number of passengers increasing every year, S&T is looking for solutions to enhance screening security and improve efficiency.

"At S&T, we are pushing the envelope with new technologies and concepts toward designing the airport of the future," Kusnezov said. "Self-paced screening is one step toward building that future.

During the trial period, TSA will assess the system's performance using feedback and data about its design, cybersecurity, and human factors, among other variables.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske said the new system will provide an opportunity to collect valuable user data and insights, as well as give insight into other areas where this technology could be useful.

S&T awarded contracts to three companies to develop self-screening systems in 2021 and LAS was the first to get through testing, according to the TSA announcement. The other two are still being developed for future consideration.

Dankers said the concept for this type of screening came about five years ago, but the current system in LAS was assembled at the beginning of the year.

LAS reported 57.6 million passengers in 2023, breaking its record for the second year in a row and maintaining its spot as one of the busiest sites for air travel in the nation.

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