Imagine an airport where your every move is tracked from the moment you park your car to the time you walk down the jet bridge. It may seem creepy, but the goal is admirable: to speed things up around airport security checkpoints. And you can keep your shoes on. (More on that in a moment.)
USA Today explains how the process is currently under way at Dallas's Love Field. And what a process it is. It starts with high-definition cameras – 500 of them. Eventually, there will also be a "screening tunnel" for passengers to walk through. The tunnel will eliminate the need for metal detectors and X-ray machines. And – bonus! – there's no need to remove your shoes and belt with the new system.
Got some time to kill? Download Yahoo! TimeTraveler on your iPhone to create custom itineraries based on your location and amount of time you have to spend.
Love Field is the first airport to make the push for this "checkpoint of the future," but USA Today quotes airline insiders as saying these checkpoints could become mainstream in a decade. And it won't be a moment too soon: The number of fliers continues to soar, and speeding things up will become increasingly necessary.
For some savvy travelers, that future is now with the TSA's PreCheck program, currently in use by one million frequent fliers who identify themselves as flying on specific airlines. This program will be expanded to 35 airports. And for $100, global travelers can also participate in the PreCheck
From a pre-9/11 high of 350 passengers an hour moving through security checkpoints, the rate has slowed to just 149, according to Perry Flint at the International Air Transport Association, which represents the airline industry. With an additional 700 million new passengers expected to take to the skies in the near future, the need for improvements in efficiency and safety will become even more urgent.
But don't despair. As the TSA demonstrated through PreCheck, certain changes can be made immediately to improve efficiency.
As the summer travel season heats up, searches on Yahoo! have increased in the last week for "airport security rules," "speed through airport security," and "airport security pass."
Travelers who need a refresher on airport security requirements can check the TSA website for screening guidelines. Still, the best travel insurance this season may be to pack a good book – and a lot of patience.
– Y! blogger Claudine Zap contributed to this story