Get through airport security in five seconds?

In a perfect world, personal privacy and national security would not seem so mutually exclusive for airline travelers.

Although we’ll likely never live in a perfect world, the International Air Transport Association unveiled a new contraption June 7 that could get you through an airport security line in five seconds, writes the Telegraph’s David Millward. For travel-weary frequent fliers, that might sound a little like a utopia. In addition, you wouldn’t need to remove your belt, empty your pockets or take off your shoes if airports adopt the technology that IATA introduced at its 67th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Singapore.

Instead, airline travelers would pass through one of three 21-foot tunnels based on the passengers’ status as known travelers, normal travelers or enhanced security travelers, according to IATA’s website. To prove you’re a known traveler, you would need to pass through an iris-recognition system, which would verify your identity and confirm that you’re not a suspected terrorist. From there, you get to pass through a tunnel with minimal scanning technology in place: an X-ray machine and a metal and liquid detector.

Normal travelers — or those who feel like iris scanning is too creepy — would pass through those scanners in addition to a machine that detects explosive material, Millward writes. That tunnel also would scan travelers’ shoes.

If you qualify as an enhanced security traveler, you’ll go through a tunnel that features a full-body scanner, Millward writes. This lane would be reserved for travelers who display suspicious behavior, such as buying a one-way ticket in cash and checking no bags.

Dylan Loh of Channel NewsAsia show how these tunnels would work. He swipes his passport once, then a second time in conjunction with an iris scan at the known traveler lane.

IATA and the Homeland Security Department have not commented on the cost of collecting and storing millions of travelers’ iris scans. According to IATA, the association is working with the Homeland Security Department on DHS' Checkpoint of Tomorrow program to revamp a tedious and often contentious security process at airports.

About the Author

Michael Protos is a web content editor with 1105 Government Information Group.


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