In a move to calm passengers at bustling TSA checkpoints, a private company is now testing several soothing techniques at two airports.
SecurityPoint Media, which provides tubs and tables to the TSA for its advertising strategies, has collaborated with Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to set up these new checkpoints.
TSA officials believe that odd and suspicious behavior can be easily detected in a calmer environment. Kip Hawley, TSA Administrator, told USA today, “Calm allows things to stand out more. It creates a better environment to observe hostile intent.”
A hotel-like environment makes security checks more welcoming
Passengers have always despised and criticized invasive methods used for scanning at TSA checkpoints, which has reflected badly on airports. Bob Blankenship, assistant vice president for planning at DFW, believes that with the introduction of new measures, travellers will find security checks more welcoming. “We want to think about it as a service instead of a governmental gap nobody touches and everyone tolerates,” he said.
Designed using the concept of a hotel lobby, complete with lounge areas, mood lighting, bright walls, music and video entertainment, after-screening “re-composure” areas, and smiling officers, the new checkpoints aim to relieve exasperation among passengers.
SpringHill Suites, a budget-hotel chain, is spending about $500,000 to sponsor the new TSA checkpoints. In return, the hotel chain will be advertising in more prominent areas at the checkpoints.
The TSA declined to comment on the pilot program as it is a commercial venture. “We don’t have a problem with it,” a TSA spokeswoman said.
More screeners — not decorations — would improve security checkpoints, some say
The TSA’s operates in over 70 airports across the nation. An average of 17 screeners per airport manage the TSA checkpoints. This number is miniscule, considering the number of fliers in a day. Screeners are often seen rushing through the security check, in order to manage the huge rush of passengers. This might be the reason why airport security auditors are successful in bringing illegal materials through checkpoints.
The Las Vegas Sun reports that it’s “a little silly to think that the key to keeping the nation’s airports secure is a little soft lighting and music to relax people” and suggests that the government agency should hire more screeners instead of succumbing to a commercial strategy of “redecorating” the security checkpoints.