TSA Enables Passengers to Go at Their Own Pace at Hobby

New security lanes are unveiled at Houston's Hobby airport. They are expected to help travelers get through security and onto their flights more quickly. Pat Hernandez has the story:
The Transportation Security Administration announced the expansion of its popular Self-Select Lanes to Hobby Airport, the 18th in the country to do so. Other airports looking at the program will determine if it fits their needs.

The self-selects are simply a series of lanes designated by signage that directs passengers based on their travel needs and knowledge. EXPERT for the frequent business traveler...CASUAL for passengers that travel less frquently but are familiar with the security process...and FAMILY & SPECIAL ASSISTANCE for those w/small children or strollers, the elderly or passengers in need of special assistance.

Jim Marchand, the TSA's Federal Security Director at Hobby Airport, says they tweaked the symbol to fit Texas:
"The Black Diamond slope is for an expert skier, that's where they came up with this name. We said, 'We have alot of people who go skiing, but we don't ski alot.' So we said, 'Let's change the theme here and let's get us a rodeo theme.' So, headquarters approved that, and we have the rodeo signs. This is the first airport where the rodeo signs are being used. We have the Covered Wagon for families and those that need assistance, we've got the Blue Square with a casual horse rider, and then in the Black Diamond we've got a man on a horse that's an expert rider."

Marchand says the dedicated lanes increase security by calming the checkpoint environment and giving passengers some control of the process:

"I think it will de-stress the activity at the checkpoints."
Tom Bartlett, Chief Operating Officer of the Houston Airport System says it might take some time for people to adjust to the new system:
"With the summer travel coming up, we're going to have alot of non-seasoned travelers. So, they're going to have staff and employees out here to help direct people into the right lanes and send them on their way."

Initial confusion had some parents ending up at the wrong line with frequent fliers:

"What do you think about the new changes? 'It appears this is going to work well...it looks like it's going to work out pretty good. I mean, I get to get in the expert traveler line and don't have to deal with waiting as long so, it's supposed to facilitate you boarding on the plane...I guess once you understand it, maybe it will...I think it sounds like a good deal. I mean, anything we can do to expedite this is great."

Pat Hernadez...KUHF Houston Public Radio News.
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Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...