Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Music and Light 'Reduce' Airport Passenger Stress

Air passengers' stress could be reduced and airport security improved by music and light, according to the US airport security authority.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it is planning to undertake a total makeover of airport security checkpoints, which will include calming mood lighting and music.

Known as the Checkpoint Evolution Project, the plans for the future of security checkpoints also include provision for new X-ray baggage screening equipment and wider security lanes to help ease congestion.

The plans were announced on the TSA's airport security blog at the weekend by the agency's boss, Kip Hawley.

New X-Ray Baggage Scanning Machines

The TSA has described in detail the design of the new airport security checkpoints it wants to introduce.

Passengers will arrive at the security desk with their carry-on hand luggage. A biometric scanner will then check the passenger's identity, while the passenger's bag and shoes will be scanned by new X-ray machines.

The new X-ray scanning machines, known as millimetre wave portals, are capable of seeing through clothes to present a "whole body image". Hawley says the new scanners "represent the first significant addition to the checkpoint since metal detectors and X-ray machines were introduced in the 1970s".

A so-called "composure bench" will be installed at the end of the security queue, where passengers will have more room than they do at present to collect their bags and put their shoes back on.

While passengers wait in the security queue, they will be surrounded by light panels emitting "calming" colours while soothing, ambient "spa-like" music will be played on loudspeakers.

The idea is to help relax passengers and reduce stress in airport security queues. Hawley said the new design would incorporate the lessons learned from the recent trial of re-configured airport security lanes, which was launched in a bid to ease delays.

In addition, the checkpoints will be surrounded by display boards showing pictures of the security officers, which the TSA hopes "will put a face on and show the personal side of our screeners".
'Improving Airport Security'

Announcing the plans on the TSA blog, Hawley said the new airport security checkpoint design were being launched in order to improve airport security.

Hawley said the use of music and light will help reduce stress in passengers, so making it easier for security officers to spot suspicious behaviour. He said it would "help in making those [passengers] who do pose a threat stand out".

He added that more officers would be specially trained in "behaviour detection" in order to "identify people that intend to do harm".

Hawley said the TSA believes that the future of airport security needs to have "more focus on people, not just things", and that the new checkpoint design was part of that.

The first airport to feature the new checkpoint will be Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. It is not known yet what other airports will introduce the design.

The TSA added that the design being used for the new checkpoints was "modular" and that airports would be able to incorporate individual pieces of the design that would be suitable for their locations.

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent

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