June 7th, 2011
07:10 AM GMT
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Singapore (CNN) – Every business traveler knows the drill: Remove your belt, jewelry, sometimes even your shoes; take everything out of your pockets and then hope you don't get selected for the dreaded pat down.

The airport security process, considered an inconvenience at best and at worst a personal invasion, is fait accompli for travelers these days. No one likes it, but everyone who wants to fly – and fly safely – gets in line.

Now a group that represents the world's largest airlines is claiming it doesn't always have to be this way.

"We must replace a 40-year-old concept with a risk-based approach, powered by intelligence and technology," said Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in a speech to the trade group's members. "Our passengers should be able to get from the curb to the gate with dignity, without stopping, without stripping, without unpacking and certainly without groping."

IATA unveiled its aptly dubbed "Checkpoint of the Future" at this week's annual general meeting in Singapore. Although the project is still nothing more than a concept, the mock-up showed a fully automated security system. Passengers are able to confirm their identity with a passport and iris scan alone, and then proceed down a tunnel.

While they walk, the system performs all the normal safety checks, including an X-ray, liquid scan, shoe scan and explosive detector: all without the need to stop and remove your laptop.

The idea also includes multiple paths for different types of travel. Those who regularly take to the skies could apply for the "known traveler" status, which would reduce screening significantly for each trip. Those considered a high risk would enter a tunnel with an enhanced set of checks. Even if a passenger sets off a detector, IATA said he or she would just be diverted to another automated check, not a manual pat down.

The "Checkpoint of the Future" sounds a bit like concept car – great fun at the auto show, but not showing up in the driveway anytime soon.

However, Ken Dunlap – head of security for IATA – insisted that the system “is science fact and not science fiction.” He said he expects the new checkpoints to be implemented in the next five to seven years.

Despite his optimism, Dunlap was vague when asked about the overall cost of the project, and putting such technology to work would take sustained collaboration by the airline industry, airport operators and participating governments.

As airline passengers today face an ever stricter web of security restrictions, the "Checkpoint of the Future" provides the promise of a pat-free check-in: A promise that may or may not provide much comfort next time you get pulled out of the security line.



soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. TheVancouverMan

    Here is a good idea. Racial Profiling,

    June 7, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  2. Bravo Noel Abejaron

    I'd rather be patted anywhere and sleep on my 2 hour flight than risk on technology and be awake for 2 hours waiting for something to happen.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  3. power4things

    What, and deny us air travelers the opportunity to be gropped and humiliated by 5th-graders in blue uniforms? I expect some of them to make you drop for pushups. People skills? Decency? Fugeddaboudit. If IATA tries this solution, govt security trolls will stage another hijack or air incident to "prove" it doesn't work. Can't wait. I always wonder, what do these TSA officers act like when they go home to their families? Well, Bosco, we travelers have familiies – and feelings – too.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  4. Danny

    Now who do we have to thank for having to go through this everytime we travel??

    June 7, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  5. Nuno

    ... and yet people continue to travel for all the most stpd reasons
    like if the planet could support 7 billion monkeys on the clouds all the time for much longer...

    June 7, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  6. Benjh

    @Bravo Noel Abejaron: you win comment of the year. Because of course, technology is not involved today in air travel. It's not like you're actually FLYING THROUGH THE AIR.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  7. FrankLW

    It is only due to radical Islam that we must endure pat downs, trashing of our liquids, removing of our shoes etc. before boarding planes all over the world. Radical Islam mass murders random passersby everywhere from London and Bali to Madrid, Tel Aviv, Mumbai, Stockholm, Uganda, Amman, Luxor, Fort Hood, Lahore, Baghdad, Buenos Aires, Russia and NYC.
    However well we can streamline security – including allowing some profiling, based on past experience (say, 18-40 year old males who have visited Muslim countries...) – it will only be when the world ceases its heavy dependency on fossil fuels, and the massive Muslim oil money that is diverted to radical Islam dries up, that the promoters of this violence and barbarism will finally retreat back to the desert where all this horror originated.
    True, fundamentalist Muslims will still be able to “lawfully” behead and stone each other for non-violent victimless “crime” like badmouthing Muhammad or cross dressing, or irreversibly punish petty crime by cutting off each others' hands, feet, eyes, teeth, ears and tongues. They will also be able to maintain their way of life in which “honor killings”, the battering and lashing of women and child molestation is an accepted norm.
    At least, however, they won’t have the means to fly jetliners into towers (or even board jetliners at all), or attain nukes and other WMDs, the way Ahmadinejad and the “Ayatollahs” in Iran are doing – or even just spread their horrendous propaganda over the internet (twisting the truth for the sake of Jihad, Holocaust denial, inane conspiracy theories, promotion of violent theocracy disguised as “compatible with the best of Western values”, etc.).

    June 7, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  8. Juan C.

    Is it better to X-ray through us every time we get on a plane? No way!
    We have enough radiations in our "normal" life, I'd rather be patted down.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  9. oink oink

    americans are just overreacting on pat downs.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  10. Tigerbeer

    As a man I don't want to be patted down by another man. Who is that guy anyway? What might his motive be. At least give me a choice.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  11. T1Brit

    Yes we are all in terrible danger from exploding white females, exploding small children, 60 year old Jewish business men etc etc etc.

    What a great day it will be when the public security officials can actually do their job and protect us from the
    people who we all know actually want to blow up airplanes.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  12. jimbo

    sounds like these guys have been watching Total Recall

    June 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  13. Pataihua

    Since 911 the US has gone into paranoid mode. Believe no one, suspect everyone. The last time I ever went into the US, from Canada, was three weeks after 911. Canadians were the scapegoat for the Americans, they were unable to look inwards. My cross-border inspection (by car) was the most insulting, mean-spirited experience I can recall in my 61 years. They have never gotten over the blame-game. That humiliation was the last time I set foot into that ungreatful country. After Canada opened up their hospitality to tens of thousands of passengers that were grounded from entering the US for days after attack. I know many more Canadians who made this same choice. There are many more welcoming countries in this world.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  14. Sonny Liston Holmes

    The pat downs and security features can be defeated by placing an explosive in the rectal cavity. TSA grope this! You'll get crap on your face, ha ha!

    June 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  15. Guest

    We pay extra security fees...big bucks when you travel, some times half the ticket price. Why don't we check certain type of people for example –country of origin, age, gender, etc, etc. So we can reduce the Airport security and cut down travel costs.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  16. Bruno

    Well a terrorist can just eat a lot of beans for lunch and produce enough gases to create an explosive device during the flight... :D lolol

    June 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  17. Diptera

    Only in the USA can you pay to get in to a club, have half a dozen random strangers grope you for their own personal satisfaction, and then complain that a search is some form of sexual harassment. The USA needs to rethink its concept of body image – from what is lewd or not, to what induces eating disorders, to what is 'normal'.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  18. Michalis G

    I agree with Juan C. X-rays are very harmful and should only be used for medical reasons when it is absolutely necessary. I'd rather be patted down too than X-rayed every time I travel.

    There are safer scanning methods such as MRI's but have other issues (cost, cannot scan people with metal implants etc.)
    Unfortunately technology is not ready yet to take over from current security procedures.

    June 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  19. Martin Smith

    You dont go thru all this inconvienece at Isreallie airports and there planes dont get hijacked anymore. There sercurity people are highly trained how to pick out possible problem passengers. And although most US customs poeple are pretty decent I remember one at Windsor getting outright nasty with us and the reason was we had some subs from subway with meat in them.

    June 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  20. howard

    I have a pacemaker and do a lot of traveling. I always have to get pat down. I have never had a bad experience, as far as a pat down goes. No one has ever been rude or made me feel uncomfortable. If the security person is rude to you about doing the pat down then it is probably because you were rude first (note I said probably, there is always that jerk or the person who is having a bad day out there). It is their job, they don't get their jollies from it. Just accept that is it for you and everyone else safety. It is just a factor of the state of the world we live in and complaining about it is not going to do much. Maybe if the security people didn't think that we hated them so much they would be more pleasant to interact with.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  21. TRH

    Until the TSA is doing full body cavity searches on 100% of the passengers and crew in full sight of witnesses to insure no collusion then there are ways someone willing to die can harm others on a plane.

    Anything short of that is just a song and dance to make the sheep feel safe.

    BTW, if I were looking to harm others and disrupt infrastructure, there are FAR FAR FAR softer targets all over this country that would have FAR FAR FAR larger economic and social impacts than anything near an airport.

    The terrorists already won with regard to air travel. We've spent billions now to FEEL safe flying. They'd be wasting their time at airports now. Better to cause this type of panic and spending in another area if they really want to bring our country to its knees.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  22. Maria

    "At worst, it's an invasion of personal privacy" - No, at worst it's sexual assault.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  23. Maria

    @Juan C. – You do realize you face higher radiation levels than you do in your "normal" life when you're on a plane anyway? If you're fine putting your body through elevated radiation levels due to flying, you should be fine with the extra radiation that comes from this screening. (Heck, you're facing elevated radiation levels going through the regular metal detector and the "naked" scan machines) I'd much rather a little more radiation (which I'm already subjecting my body to due to flying) than be sexually assaulted or have children be sexually assaulted by the TSA "pat downs".

    June 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  24. Richard Heteny

    For me it's easy. Just don't fly in the U.S.A. I have already turned down business and dealing with U.S. companies because if I cannot drive I do not go. The truth is the american government would rather have there citizens groped then admit they should abandon unconditional israeli terror and segregation in the middle east.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  25. Richard Heteny

    Don't like that one CNN. You are part of the problem! Muzzle.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  26. Binoy

    Reading some comments on profiling based on country of origin, search the internet for "Robert Coleman Headley", a white American, with no beard, no foreign accent, an American in all respects, follower of OBL. He managed to travel to India many times, no one suspected a white American to masterminded terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. I am sure he would have got through all airports with his flawless credentials.

    Security is a serious aspect, and anyone who wants to travel has to be aware of it and respect the fact the TSA agents doing pat downs themselves do not want to do it, they are doing it so that we are safe when we fly.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  27. Bob

    Actually the 2 hours I spent in the United "Customer Services" queue was a far bigger indignity than the minor pat down I received on my recent trip to the US.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  28. Cally

    Hear hear, TRH! As unnecessary theater as the TSA scans/patdowns are, they would make a LOT more sense if ALL the crew (caterers, maintenance, baggage handlers, and yes, pilots!) had to go through this EVERY time they approached a plane! Anything less is a gap in security, and therefore, useless.
    I look forward to regaining my 4th Amendment rights someday (call me a dreamer).

    June 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  29. ThatsNotTrue:[

    ........................................................no thanks................................................just no, X rays or pat downs, not going there, ever.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  30. fisher1949

    Just another way to squander taxpayer money. Anyone doubt that none of the TSA gropers get laid off? TSA is a corrupt, power hungry agency whose only mission is to grow its size.

    Who will protect Americans from TSA? There have been twenty six screeners arrested in six months for job related crimes, including drug trafficking, theft, two for raping minors and one for distributing child porn. Twenty six criminal acts, twenty five security failures, over four thousand groping complaints and dozens of lawsuits, all in six months, yet TSA hasn't stopped one terrorist attack in nine years

    This agency costs taxpayers $10.00 every time someone passes through security. The passenger only pays $2.50 of the $12.50 total cost as part of the fare.

    Anyone so afraid to fly that that they would consent to having their family strip-searched and their privates groped by a stranger in a public place shouldn’t fly. These people are obviously ill equipped to manage the risk that life entails and should stay home. The rest of us should be subjected to reasonable and respectful security, one that does not involve sexual assault. We value our rights and recognize that there are no guarantees in life; certainly none that the incompetents at TSA can provide.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  31. DFW2NYC

    They stole that idea from the movie Total Recall. That's not a new idea.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:28 am |
  32. Cyberbeing

    I once saw a really old white couple asked to take out their jackets and it was such a struggle for them to take it out unaided.
    I recommend racial and religious profiling although I know my physical attributes will get me picked for special search every time.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  33. OrangePekoe

    No, Americans are NOT overreacting to patdowns, thank you very much! And radiating us is a stupid and dangerous way of going about screening as well. The best way is to have two people process every passenger jsut as the Israelis do. It works for them adn theya re not wasting money on technology which doesn't work nor are they molesting their passengers.

    June 15, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
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