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jun 13 2011

IATA reveals the checkpoint of the future

The Checkpoint of the Future. (Courtesy IATA)

Imagine the days of swiftly walking through airport security; shoes tied snuggly to your feet, jacket warmly on your shoulders, and a 16-ounce bottle of water tucked away in your bag. Seems like a dream? Well, it could become reality in 2016, if the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has its way.

IATA, which represents the airline industry, just unveiled the first mock-up of the Checkpoint of the Future at the World Air Transport Summit in Singapore on June 7. The goals of this fancy-looking checkpoint are to enhance security while reducing lines and general airport security-annoyances. In other words, allow people to walk through security without stripping or being groped.

The Checkpoint of the Future uses a "risk-based approach" that divides passengers into three groups—the "known traveler," "normal," and "enhanced security" (see photo, above). It does not see all passengers as equal, which is today's standard. The groupings are based on electronic data that is pre-screened by government officials—not airport staff—before the flight. A guard simply checks whether a "board" or "no board" flag comes up and if you are able to board, you get put into one of the three lanes.

The system is designed to move away from the current system of searching for bad objects to one that "can find bad people," says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. Most travelers will be lumped into the "normal" group (e.g. those of us who have not completed background checks with government authorities but whose documents and biometric identifiers don't trigger alarm). "Known travelers" are those who have registered with government authorities and will be granted expedited access. The "enhanced security" track is for those passengers who are deemed an "elevated risk" by government authorities, often because less information is available (occasionally individuals will be randomly selected for this lane).

Then when you arrive at your checkpoint-lane, you "biometrically identify" yourself and display your iris scans or fingerprints in your passport or other travel documents, followed by a brief encounter with a behavior analyst. Then you walk through the lane and are scanned for dangerous items.

Some of this technology is already available and in-use, like the behavior analysis, metal detection, and shoe scanning, according to the IATA. The biometrics and passenger data screening could take up to thee years, and explosive detection could take anywhere from five to seven years.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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