Ads on Airport Shoe Bins?

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Ever been bored while you waited at an airport checkpoint? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would like to cash in on the boredom of travelers by inviting companies to slap advertisements on trays and tables at checkpoints nationwide. For the past six months at Los Angeles International Airport , the TSA has tested a program that allowed companies such as Rolodex to place ads on the surfaces of shoe bins and other checkpoint items. The TSA may soon roll out the program across the country, encouraging advertisers to hawk their goods in return for millions of dollars in additional income.

While we know airport and airline security costs a bundle--roughly $3 billion a year--we worry about this new program. What's next? Free product samples after pat-downs? X-ray machines sponsored by soap makers? More seriously, as soon as the TSA starts profiting from the exposure of travelers to commercials, it may have a perverse incentive to permit delays--rather than speed up checkpoints.

If you have thoughts one way or the other about the placement of ads at checkpoints, please email us at Letters@ with the subject line "tsa ads". In the meantime, know that you can find out the average wait times at security checkpoints at any U.S. airport by visiting this site.

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