Updated December 8, 2023 - 1:48 pm
The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration will test a new self-service TSA screening system at Harry Reid International Airport beginning in January.
A pilot program for the “Screening at Speed” system is designed to eventually enable passengers to pass through the airport security screening process with minimal contact from TSA officers.
“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,” said Screening at Speed Program Manager John Fortune.
“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 TSOs need to perform and freeing their time to be reallocated to the busier aspects of screening operations,” he said in a release. “The feedback we’ve already received during testing from both mock passengers and TSOs has been incredibly positive.”
The pilot program being set up at Reid International will be placed at the Innovation Checkpoint — an area dedicated to testing upgrades in aviation security technologies — at the Zero Level of Terminal 3.
The Screening at Speed Program was established to develop new concepts to make the security check system easier for passengers. In late 2021, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology division awarded four contracts to three companies to develop self-screening concepts. A system developed by Vanderlande Industries Inc., Marietta, Georgia, is the one being tested at Reid International.
Vanderlande’s prototype, the PAX MX2, combines the company’s automated screening lane carry-on bag conveyance system with new and existing TSA equipment to create four integrated stations for one checkpoint lane. Each station includes a video monitor with multi-step instructions and a help button that connects to a live TSO for assistance as needed.
The Vanderlane prototype also includes a screening portal with automated entry and exit doors. If a passenger doesn’t pass initial screening due to an item left in their pocket or similar issue, the entry door reopens so passengers can remove items before being re-screened in the passenger portal. After travelers successfully pass screening, the automatic exit door will open and usher them out to gather their personal belongings and head to their flights.
Homeland Security and the TSA began exploring speedier technology as travel demand increased with more people flying after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Reid Airport’s Innovation Checkpoint first opened in summer 2019, but was closed at the height of the pandemic. It reopened in June 2021 and includes four lanes of automated screening.
In addition to testing multiple types of screening technology, the special TSA checkpoint is also testing an integrated UV-C light sanitization system, which is designed to disinfect the interior and exterior of bins as they are repopulated through an automated bin return system. Bins pass through an enclosed, metal box where they are exposed to a high-dose of UV-C light that has been proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses including the COVID-19 virus.