I just had my first experience with the “next generation”of airport security scanners and wow, color me impressed.
For the first time in my life, I went from curbside to gate in exactly 3 minutes, without using a priority lane, PreCheck or some sort of fast track, and watched even the most amateur travelers fly through the airport too.
Here’s everything you need to know about these game changers, which mean even if you’re not an extra special first class, fast track, TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or CLEAR member, your next trip through an airport might be remarkably better.
New Analogic Airport Security Scanners
When the White House recently announced that TSA Airport screening would be sped up by new machines, I was skeptical, but I’m now a serious believer. These machines are found in select airports around the world, but not widely, yet.
I went through London City Airport this morning – yes, in London, England – but the new security machines being trialled are the ones which the TSA in the United States recently placed a (massive) order for.
To be specific, they’re the Analogic CT X-Ray machines, which began trials for the TSA in 2018. They’re now up to the task, it appears.
In short: they offer security perks currently only available in the USA to people with TSA PreCheck, which allows these select travelers to leave liquids, laptops and pretty much everything else in their bags, rather than remove them.
In combination with new body scanners which allow you to leave shoes and jackets on, the experience is simply remarkable. You basically chuck your bag and keep walking.
The New Security Experience
London City Airport wasn’t operating a “fast track” lane, nor do they have a pre-check equivalent. Historically, everyone departing the UK must take liquids, laptops and most other electronics out of their bag.
This is still true in most of the world, and really, for most travelers in the USA too, since many do not pay for the “leave your laptop in” lans.
This practice of making people take liquids and electronics out causes at least 20-30 seconds of delay for smooth travelers, and sometimes many minutes for ill-prepared novices, who must then bag up their liquids and find the gear in their jam packed bags.
On a one person basis this isn’t necessarily material, but that is just not how security works. Every 30 second delay creates a longer, knock on effect, which when dealing with many hundreds or thousands of travelers, creates the long queues we know.
Not with these machines, though.
Describing them, I can only say they look like a big jet engine. From the rear, they really do. A big long cylindrical tube with an almost aerodynamic feel. They’re not the boxy things you’re accustomed to seeing.
As the person in front of me reached to pull out liquids, the security agent said “everything stays in” and off the bag went. The person basically kept walking, never stopping for a moment to fidget with zips or find items.
Following that lead, I then threw my bag right down onto a tray and kept walking as well. The new body scanners were also in use, and without alarming it (always pick a good airport outfit), I basically just kept walking.
With at least 10 people standing in front of me, I still made it through security in under 2 minutes. I actually had to sit down and reflect on the experience immediately after, just to confirm to myself what all just happened.
Wins For Everyone
The TSA placed a $198 million dollar order for these machines in September, and it sounds like they’re starting to make their way into the wild. In the UK, I believe the trial is still ongoing, but they were incredible to use today.
If these machines allow everyone to benefit from these efficiencies previously reserved for paying customers, it’ll mean that TSA PreCheck and CLEAR need to find new wins for customers, to create better segmentation and value.
Whether that happens, who knows, but if everyone is soon able to breeze through airport security by simply throwing a bag on a tray and walking on, the future could be very bright for all. These machines are the real deal.