It’s bad enough that US airports engage in security theater that seldom makes you safer. However, it’s made that much worse by the delays — having to wait for agents to X-ray your bags is frustrating when you’re desperate to get to your gate. American Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration aren’t deaf to your complaints, though. They’re partnering on a trial this fall for automatic screening technology that should be both more effective and save about 30 percent of your precious time in line. Among the improvements are automatic conveyor belts, a way of isolating risky bags without disrupting the queue, RIFD tags for bins and cameras that link outside photos of a bag to its X-ray.
The best part, however, might be the introduction of CT scans for carry-on bags, not just checked luggage. The 3D technology should let you keep both your laptop and liquids in your bags, so you won’t have to hold up your fellow travelers just because you need your computer.
The test run will be small at first. You’ll see the automated screening at American Airlines hubs in Chicago’s O’Hare airport as well as Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami. CT scans will only show up in Phoenix at first. If successful, though, there’s a real chance that they’ll reach all US airports and carriers. Now if they could only let you keep your shoes on…