TSA’s Self-Service Checkpoint

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing a new self-screening system at the Las Vegas airport.

Many people are comparing the new system to self-checkout lanes at grocery stores. The system uses a virtual agent to answer questions, who do not have to be physically present at the checkpoint.

The system promises to streamline the process and use fewer agents.

The self-screening system also has automated conveyors for luggage screening which can automatically send the luggage for additional screening.

Additionally, the body scanner instructs the person as to their position in the scanner.

All of these changes are intended to improve the efficiency of TSA’s check-in process.  The Las Vegas airport test will help determine the efficiencies and speed of the new system.

Video Spotlight:  

This post is based on the CBS News article, TSA Testing New Self-Service Screening Technology At Las Vegas Airport. Here’s A Look at How It Works, by Carter Evans and Analisa Novak, March 6, 2024, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Shutterstock / Tawan Jz

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the potential problems with TSA’s use of virtual agents?

Guidance: Even with a remote agent, there is less of a personal touch to the system. Many will feel that the system is impersonal. Many travelers find security checkpoints intimidating, and this could add to their anxiety. Of course, the technology needs to work well, and be dependable. It will also take some time for people to become used to the technology.

2. What benefit does the virtual agent provide?

Guidance: One benefit is that workers can work remotely, giving TSA a bigger pool of potential workers. Also, if implemented across several airports, the workers could be shared by the airports. They could answer questions as needed, switching between airports. This would improve the efficiency of agents, allowing TSA to have fewer agents, but still serve passengers quickly. It would also be easier to call in agents to increase capacity if there was unexpected demand.

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