The good news: Air travel is picking up. On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.6 million passengers, the most since March 12, 2020.
The bad news: Long wait times at security checkpoints could return as well.
Sometimes during spring break, the lines for security screening extended in the food court at Orlando International Airport, on the airlift, and in the parking lot at Orlando International Airport. Seattle-Tacoma (SEA).
TSA is hiring 6,000 screening officers ahead of the anticipated summer travel surge. This should help get things going.
The same would be true for a pilot program that will begin Tuesday at the Seattle airport.
The program, called SEA Spot Saver, seeks to streamline wait times by offering digital reservations, or “virtual queuing,” for passengers to go through the TSA screening process.
The program will operate daily until August 31 from 4 a.m. to noon (airport peak period) at two checkpoints (2 and 5) and will offer expedited screening to general screening passengers free of charge. No membership or registration for an account is required. (Expedited, unbooked screening remains available to passengers enrolled in trusted traveler programs such as TSA PreCheck and CLEAR).
SEA Spot Saver will test two options.
Alaska Airlines passengers can check in for an online security checkpoint meeting up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure time or once they are in the terminal.
Passengers will be provided with a QR code to use at the screening point when making their reservation. This option is offered by Pangiam and powered by WhyLine and Copenhagen Optimization.
There is a separate line at checkpoint 5 for passengers from Alaska. Groups traveling together can enter “group size” on the booking form, which saves space for a group of up to 12 people.
“We are confident that this pilot program will help reduce queue congestion, promote social distancing and provide a smoother and safer experience for travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport,” said Daniel Tanciar, Director of Innovation at Pangiam.
The second option, operated by VHT, is intended for passengers traveling on Delta Air Lines and all other carriers. This option allows passengers to book a meeting time at the checkpoint by scanning a QR code once they are in the terminal.
At checkpoint 2, Delta and the other passengers will find signage that staff are checking meeting times. Up to 10 people are allowed per reservation.
Both options give passengers a 15-minute window for their meeting times.
When it’s time to make an appointment, the app asks you to go to your assigned checkpoint and “just look for the SEA Spot Saver logo”.
“The Virtual Queue demonstrates our belief in giving customers control over their experiences,” said Matt DiMaria, CEO of VHT. win-win for everyone. “
Seattle will be the only airport in the United States to test a “virtual queue” system as a solution for congested general control lines.
Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) has offered screening reservations since 2014 through SecureXpress, but that program is on hold during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has left very few passengers coming and going by YUL,” spokeswoman Anne-Sophie Hamel said. “As such, there is no queue to go through security, and the service is just not useful at the moment.”
From October 2020 to April 30, Denver International Airport piloted the VeriFLY program, which offered timed checkpoint appointments, but required passengers to file their health information prior to arrival and obtain checks. temperature on site.
Port of Seattle officials have said that after the pilot is completed at the end of the summer, they will assess the line’s usage, customer feedback and efficiency – and, if successful, will launch a larger program.
“These are the innovations and ideas that we love, to make our customer experiences more convenient and stress-free, especially as more and more people get back on the plane,” said Charu Jain, senior vice president of Alaska Airline merchandising and innovation. “With very little effort, customers can rely on technology to help them get through the security process faster.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sea-Tac Airport Checkpoint Program: Reserve an Hour for TSA Screening