The Transportation Security Administration revealed the nation’s first self-service screening system Wednesday at Harry Reid International Airport.

Beginning Monday, PreCheck passengers can participate in a pilot program aimed at modernizing checkpoints and giving travelers more autonomy.

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During a morning presentation at the Las Vegas airport, TSA officials compared the new program to supermarket self-checkout lanes. Instead of having TSA personnel guide passengers through the two-step process, passengers will scan their own baggage and themselves. This will let customers to work at their own pace and reduce their encounters with TSA employees.

The agency’s employees will continue to examine IDs and oversee secondary screenings of baggage and pat-downs of passengers suspected of carrying prohibited items.

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Officials stated that the goal is not to expedite screenings, but to improve the passenger experience.

“We would love it if this eventually speeds things up, but that is not the primary goal at this time,” said John Fortune, the Department of Homeland Security’s Screening at Speed program manager. “It’s primarily to reduce the officer burden at the checkpoint and make this a more pleasant, passenger-friendly experience.”

The new system takes up two lanes at the Innovation Checkpoint in Terminal 3, a real-life lab where the agency tests new security technology. The checkpoint also serves regular PreCheck travelers, who are welcome to try out the new procedure between 5:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily. The TSA may also invite travelers at additional checkpoints to participate in the program. Children under the age of twelve and travelers in need of special help must utilize the normal lanes.

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The self-service screening system, which went from concept to reality in two years, has technical components that passengers may know, like as CT scanners. Travelers will need to master a few new steps and break certain patterns they’ve acquired at previous airport checkpoints.

“The traveling public has not seen this before,” Fortune remarked. “They’ve not experienced what it’s like to go through a checkpoint like this.”

On the morning of the big announcement, “passengers” (really TSA employees) showed the self-service screening process. The volunteers approached one of the six stations and followed the directions provided on a screen. A “Need Help?” button on the bottom left of the screen led to a live video of an officer ready to respond.

At one station, a volunteer placed all of his stuff — roller bag, belt, and wallet — in a single container, a departure from current protocols that require passengers to distribute their personal belongings among many trays. He added a lightweight jacket to the pile, reversing the PreCheck method. He slid the bin onto the conveyor belt and headed to the in-person screener.

A TSA officer led travelers into a huge glass enclosure. An avatar offered instruction. Body portions shown in green were in the proper position, whereas red regions need correction. Arrows and outlines assisted with achieving the proper stance: arms casually lying at your sides, feet slightly apart.

If the machine detects a suspicious object, a red arrow will show, signaling the diver to return to the surface. The passenger will place the thing in a bin and attempt again, as many times as necessary. One volunteer tried multiple times.

“Is it my watch?” she inquired. It wasn’t, and she was eventually allowed to proceed.

“Have a good flight,” a display said, accompanying a cartoon image of a plane.

Meanwhile, the bins bobbing along the track will follow one of three paths.

Carry-ons judged acceptable will proceed, where passengers can claim their items and continue on their journey.

If the scanner identifies a suspicious item, such as a liquid weighing more than 3.4 ounces, the bin will redirect to an officer, who will manually search the bag. One significant improvement from present protocol is that the officer will not be required to carry any large goods to a separate screening location, which could result in damage.

The third scenario concerns really dangerous objects, including firearms. The screener will direct the questionable luggage to a lockable box out of the passenger’s reach.

In another departure from normal policy, travelers are not required to return the trash to the stack. The tray will return itself, but only if it is empty, a feature that should limit the amount of public statements looking for the owner of a misplaced laptop or wallet.

The self-service security system in Las Vegas is simply a prototype, but it is part of a larger trend of innovative contactless technology in airports. It may never progress beyond the Innovation Checkpoint, or it may spread to other airports along the same path as Credential Authentication Technology (ID only at security checkpoints; no boarding pass necessary) and facial recognition (approximately 50 airports thus far).

TSA officials stated that the test phase might continue anywhere from a few months to a year. During this time, the agency will collect passenger data and feedback and correct any errors.

“We anticipate some obstacles. The issue is, “How easy will it be to resolve those challenges?” Fortune stated. “It can be an iterative process where we hopefully get a system that is seamless enough that it could be rolled out to the traveling public.”

According to Fortune, further inventions and upgrades could be on their way to Las Vegas. Passengers could assist test shoe scanners and flat panels with overhead screening capabilities (similar to an E-ZPass toll system for individuals). He plans to experiment with wands that will replace pat downs, as well as buildings that would compress self-service technology into individual pods. “That’s two or three years away,” he stated about the latter invention.

Biometrics are increasingly being used in airports. Delta Air Lines has begun introducing a facial recognition software known as Delta Digital ID at airports such as Atlanta, Detroit, and Los Angeles, as well as LaGuardia and JFK in New York City. Instead than pulling out documents, qualifying SkyMiles members can simply gaze into the camera for bag drop and security.

Last Monday, United Airlines announced that it would begin “touchless” identity verification at airport checkpoints in Chicago and Los Angeles for PreCheck subscribers. American Airlines provides its own version at Reagan Washington National Airport.