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TSA Testing 3-D Scans for Easier Airport Security Checks

We all know the routine: Laptops out, bagged liquids in the bin, don’t forget your tablet too. And then shove all back in your bag amid your fellow haggard travelers.

It’s most people’s least-favorite part of traveling, and the TSA is about to take a big step toward ending it.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “The TSA and American Airlines have begun testing the use of smaller, more advanced CT scanners for carry-on luggage at one lane of Terminal Four at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.” If effective, these scanners would allow travelers to leave laptops, liquids, and gels in their carry-on bags.

The TSA will test another scanner at Boston’s Terminal E later this month. The Tribune reports that these tests will last “indefinitely.”

“We already use this type of technology for checked baggage, and we expect these smaller checkpoint-sized machines will provide the same high level of security,” TSA Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia said in a statement. The agency already uses CT scanners on checked baggage, but their size and cost make them impractical for use in the terminal.

Here’s how it works, per the TSA’s release:

“The new CT screening equipment shoots hundreds of images with an X-ray camera that spins around the conveyor belt to provide officers with a 3-D picture of a carry-on bag to ensure it does not contain a threat. The system presently applies sophisticated algorithms for the detection of explosives. If a bag requires additional screening, TSA officers will open and inspect it to ensure that a threat item is not contained inside.”

Folks, this could be the real deal. This is what travelers have been clamoring for: the holy grail of TSA checkpoint technology.

OK, maybe that’s hyperbole. But this is the first major, meaningful opportunity to speed up airport security to come along in over 15 years. If these machines work as hoped, they may actually increase the effectiveness of security screening while decreasing the time and hassle involved. What a concept.

Readers, do you think these tests are a turning point in airport screening? Are you hopeful, or does this sound too good to be true? Is airport screening even that big a deal anymore, or are you used to it?

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