TSA Brings All The Signage Of Skiing To Security Lines, None Of The Fun

The TSA is testing a new crowd management system at two airports in Denver and Salt Lake City that they hope will make the security process less troublesome. No, the new system isn’t less invasive or more security-sensible, but it does give families with kids/strollers/bags their own lane, both for their sanity and for ours. Early reports indicate families are happy with it but too many casual travelers think they’re experts and head to the black diamond lane, which is only for people who walk briskly and frown a lot.

From the TSA blog, where every TSA employee suspiciously writes in the same perfectly-punctuated, on-message style (this quote is from the man who heads TSA security operations in Salt Lake City, and clearly not from a PR flack):

The Green lanes are used primarily by families, who often feel stressed in the traditional lane trying to get through with their kids, strollers and other stuff. Often these folks haven’t gotten the proper level of attention they deserve. People who don’t travel much and groups also select this lane. We’ve dedicated more resources to get people through this lane quickly without making them feel pushed. The Blue lanes are for casual travelers who understand TSA procedures to a degree but may not travel all that frequently so they take a little more time. The black diamond lanes are for expert travelers who understand the system by the nature of traveling a lot and are totally prepared for the checkpoint.

One smart-assed commenter on a related Rocky Mountain News article asks, “Where’s the terrorist line?” We agree—that would solve a lot of problems, provided the cluelessly overconfident Blue travelers didn’t self-select for it and clog it up.

Halfway down a Denver Post story about the experiment is one of the saddest things we’ve read all week. Here’s a glimpse of the future of America—children indoctrinated from their earliest memories to accept The Way Things Are.

In the stroller were her sons, Christian, 4, and Wyatt, 2.

Wyatt was crying up a storm.

Asked if she thought the new system might benefit her and her kids, Clatterbuck said, “I hope so,” as the two well-trained little boys took off their shoes even though they were seated in the stroller.

Update: A helpful reader sent in a more useful version, which—if followed—would solve all of our security problems.


“Update on Black Diamond Pilot in Salt Lake City – and Now It’s in Denver Too” [evolution of Security] <-- That's the name of the TSA blog, seriously. And check out this subheading: "Terrorists Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play A Part." !!!

“Color-coded screening takes off at DIA” [Denver Post]
“DIA security lines: Pick ’em” [Rocky Mountain News]
(Image: Jeff R.) (Thanks, Jeff!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. laserjobs says:

    Papers Please

  2. firefoxx66 says:

    That just really makes me want to turn up at the airport in skis and goggles and stand around the security checkpoint looking really confused. I know it wouldn’t really work in real life, but in my head it’s priceless.

  3. ElizabethD says:

    Which Type Are You?
    — BLACK

    Oh, yeah, that’ll go over well.

  4. cmdr.sass says:

    Do the TSA screeners even know their colors? You’d be hard pressed to find one that could recite the alphabet.

  5. toddiot says:

    @ElizabethD: Wow, that was awesome :D

  6. Teradoc says:

    I wonder if this will become a major sporting event?

    *Up in the annoucer’s booth*
    “Today we have Vicky, a tried and true green circle, attempting to navigate the tricky black diamond Security Salom Event. She’s looking good so far…around the first marker…sloppy around the second…oh no she’s tripped and fell! Looks like it’ll be an hour delay at the security checkpoint for everyone now!”

  7. DarthPaul says:

    This simply means they’ll harass and randomly profile non-family lines more heavily…esp us iffy brown people.

  8. KyleOrton says:

    I assume that the Black Diamond frequent travelers have little baggage because the airlines have already lost it all. Right?

    In my experience, the more a person travels the more likely they are to carry everything on.

  9. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    I could see this working, but only if you have to get some sort of approval to use the ‘black’ line. Otherwise every schmo is going to think he’s experienced and get in that line.

  10. ARP says:

    @KyleOrton: I travel a lot, carry everything on, and don’t have a lot of stuff.

    I don’t carry a lot of stuff because I’ve got packing and what I’m going to wear down pretty well. So, you don’t need three pairs of pants and three jackects for three days, etc.

    Yes, I agree, macho schmos (excellent choice of words BTW), who think they’re black, but are actually blue, will be the problem.

  11. B1663R says:

    @laserjobs: “Eine Papiers Bitte”

  12. morganlh85 says:

    “Black” equals “travel frequently with little luggage”?

    Sounds racist to me.

  13. ELC says:

    Teradoc – you made my day! LOL funny! :)

  14. kimsama says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but take less luggage overseas for a three week trip than some people I know who are going to Florida for the weekend. But you know they’ll go to the black diamond line if it’s shorter, so there is no way that this will work.

    @Franklin Comes Alive!: I am in favor of a test.

  15. MissTic says:

    Yeah, I want to know how they plan on enforcing this. I can see it will be easy to herd groups and families into the “green” line, but the I can also see people being pissed if they are told they need to get in the blue line instead of the black one. If they are going to leave this up to the public, I predict more frustration and confusion. Heck, the people at my local airport still can’t grasp the “elite” line for the frequent travelers. Is that going to be replaced with this? Sheesh.

  16. Bay State Darren says:

    Where’s the stunt park line? That’s always favorite trail rating.

  17. mopar_man says:


    That or the TSA has confiscated it all. Cause, you know, all terrorists keep their evil world domination plans on easily-accessible laptops and personal electronic devices.

  18. econobiker says:

    About darn time they actually applied some industrial organization to the confusion at the screening lines…

  19. KyleOrton says:

    @ARP: I agree, actually, and do the same thing. I guess I just didn’t think people would try or want to bring much more than a small bag and a briefcase. That is pretty easy to handle for me.

  20. jamesdenver says:

    Well back to the skiing analogies: anyone who’s been slopeside knows how one feels to be a newbie hopelessly stuck in the middle of an expert double black diamond run while others go shooshing by them or pointing at them from the chairlift.

    And you’ll also get your ass handed to you if youre dick who goes skiing at top speed through a populated green “slow zone” full of kids and slow riders.

    Perhaps the same will play out for those who clog up the expert lines yet can’t seem to empty that last pocket of change. Or conversely a jerk who heads to the family line just because its shorter – only to sit waiting for bumbler after bumbler to clear the metal detecter.

    james [www.futuregringo.com]

  21. Amelie says:

    @Franklin Comes Alive!: If one improperly uses the Black Line, they should be sent to the Family Line.

    @KyleOrton: Thank you a rarity on this site – a truly clever comment, while making a pertinent point to the topic at hand.

    @B1663R: Why repeat what has already been said in English, in horrible German?

  22. pibbsman0 says:

    These are not the terrorists you are looking for, move along.

  23. Geekybiker says:

    Easy, you need to be able to show a FF card above base level to get into black lane. Anyone who really qualifies should already have one. Doesnt matter if you’re traveling on that airline, just that you have one.

  24. Amelie says:

    @Geekybiker: My frequent fly card has no indication of my status. I hope you aren’t saying something like elite status, because one doesn’t have to travel monthly, to be an expert at security lines.

  25. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Perfectly punctuated? Where is his serial comma before “and”?

    Yes, I will defend this usage with my life if necessary. I enshrine it in my heart right next to the use of singular “they.”

  26. theblackdog says:

    *shrug* my planned flight leaves at 6:20 in the morning, I doubt there will be many people in the security line at that time.

  27. savvy999 says:

    @Geekybiker: And in 10 minutes shady dudes will be selling fake FF cards at the dropoff curb. Try again.

    I would have loved to have been in on the discussions about what colors and shapes they were going to use for these 3 categories.

    Pink triangles? Out, just wayyyy out.
    Red crosses? Out, taken.
    Blue stars? Out, Jerry Jones will sue us.
    Pink hearts, yellow moons, blue diamonds? Lucky Charms people will sue us.

  28. Geekybiker says:

    @zouxou: Not elite, but one of the levels that you have to fly errr frequently at achieve. Otherwise any joe schmoe can get a card and hop into the expert lane. Its not a perfect qualification (I travel often, but not enough to qualify) but its probably as close as you’re going to get with existing metrics.

  29. Anything that separates me from little kids running around me is A-OK in my book. In fact, I always chose the line with the least kids, even if that line is shorter.

  30. Amelia Subverxin says:

    I’m one of those “casual” travelers who got stuck behind a woman in a wheelchair in the security line at O’Hare’s Terminal 3 last month. She had a cane, so they made her send her cane through the x-ray, then brought it back to her and made her get out of the wheelchair and stumble through the metal detector. Even with a cane, she needed one TSA employee to hold her as she walked. The guy was ready to just leave her once she got through the metal detector, but she could not stand on her own. Meanwhile, all the other employees at the checkpoint just stood there and did nothing until the woman started screaming that she needed her wheelchair because she could not stand for long periods of time. Then one of them finally ran to examine her wheelchair and take it through the checkpoint. She had someone traveling with her, but he was still struggling with getting their carry-on bags through x-ray and waved me go on ahead of him, so he was nowhere near-by when this happened.

    Having separate lines for those needing assistance is a start, but I’d like reassurance that those extra lines will be staffed. Plus, common sense should have dictated that a woman in a wheelchair can’t walk through the metal detector and should have just been checked by wand.

  31. itsallme says:

    Now if we could get supermarkets to convert some of their lanes to ‘green’ lanes, for those that need to write checks and can’t find a working pen, have items that won’t scan and need price checks, those waiting for a friend to return with something they forgot to get before they got in line, etc…

  32. Geekybiker says:

    @savvy999: Sure there can be fake FF cards, but what else would you use?

    Baggage? The “experts” will frequently be loaded with in cabin gear. So just saying 1 piece of carry on doesnt make sense.

    It seems the frequently flier club level are an already wide spread pre-existing method of checking flight experience. Its easy and quick to check at the gate. Yes you can buy your way in to most of them, and yes the cards could be fake. But you’ll always deal with people trying to “game” the system. Try writing “SSSS” on your boarding card sometime if you want to skip the line. At least it would sort most of the people into th e lines they belong in.

  33. forever_knight says:

    ugh. this is not a good idea.

  34. B says:

    For judging who gets into which line, couldn’t they go by the number of bags a person is carrying? So if a super experienced traveler shows up with 5 carry on items, they get stuck in the blue line, and if they have kids, obviously you go in the family line. People like me, who check everything they can and only have a small carry-on, would get the black line, even if I don’t fly often.

  35. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    What? I have to post on topic? OK.

    I have just recently started to travel for work. In the last six months I’ve flown five round trips. But I don’t qualify for “elite” FF status because they’ve all been on different airlines.

    Next weekend, I’ll be heading to Scotland for training. I have an hour layover at Gatwick. This is not going to be near long enough. Some sort of expedited line would surely help me.

  36. sir_eccles says:

    @B1663R: Ihre Papiere bitte!

    but then again we have just invoked Godwins law.

  37. witeowl says:

    Um… casual traveler with one small carry-on here. Can I be purple?

  38. B says:

    @witeowl: Depends on how quickly you can whip out your boarding pass and ID.

  39. witeowl says:

    @B: There you go. Line up according to how many bags, relatives, or “special needs” you’re slinging around.

    On a slightly related note: who here has gone through Southwest Airlines’ new boarding lines? Crystal clear to me and many others, but there’s always the one thick-skulled person who absolutely cannot understand that C-42 is NOT A-1.

  40. catskyfire says:

    I think it could be interesting. Though I usually have a roll backpack carry-on, I’d count myself as a Black Diamond Traveler because I’m ready for the check area. My shoes are loose (if not off) when I get there, I’m not wearing a metal encrusted belt, etc.

    As opposed to the people I’m usually stuck behind. Laptop man who was upset that, despite plenty of signage, announcements, and videos (Las Vegas airport), he had to take the thing out of the case. Or the skateboarder who discovered that his metal studded belt made the metal detector go off…

    Maybe they could have someone there to direct people. “You…the one with no visible jewelry on, no watch, and shoes in hand, you go over there. You, twit, with a watch, a chunky steel bracelet, and an attitude, you go over there…”

  41. Christo67 says:

    As a Father this sounds great! I’m hope they expand this concept to more airports.

  42. AD8BC says:

    @Geekybiker: RE: SSSS, man, you’re cold. Funny, but cold.

    When I hit security, I always have one rollaboard (the largest allowed) and a laptop in a backpack. Before getting in line, my shoes are loose, my belt buckle is removed and placed in the outer pocket of the rollaboard with my keys and any change that I may have. Jacket (if any) is stuffed into my rollaboard.

    As soon as I get to the table, laptop comes out and into a tray, shoes go into the tray on top of the laptop. When I get to the machine, shoes come out and directly onto the belt (not allowed to be on top of the laptop) and eveything gets stuffed into the machine.

    (I have not set off a metal detector in nine years of frequent flying).

    Pop out the other side, slip on the shoes, grab my bags and get out of the way before recovery.

    Most times this works but sometimes one of more piece of electronics in my rollaboard catches the X-ray ops attention (2 foot long ham radio antenna, usually, or one of my wall-wart chargers) but nine times out of 10 I get through quick, with my big-as-allowed rollaboard and my backpack.

    Just need to prepare yourself.

  43. axiomatic says:

    Dear TSA, just actually DO your F-ing job! That alone might make things go faster.

  44. econobiker says:

    Maybe, just maybe, the larger airports need to install a “trial” metal detector areas where you can check if your stuff sets off the detector. Or some information person can advise you of how to configure your stuff to get through quick enough- ie tell you to ditch the 4.1 oz hair gel, etc. before holding everyone else up. And they can educate the fliers who have been under a rock since 09-11-01 about what is going on during the inspection.

    I was just one person who slammed the TSA blog site with the recoommendation that they use some sort of industrial sequencing or throughput analysis to figure the lines out. That 20% (families with strollers, special needs, etc) was holding up the 80% (everyone else), natch?

  45. coelacanth says:

    “Federal law prohibits standing in the wrong security line.”
    “Federal law prohibits showing false or misleading frequent flyer cards to TSA screeners.”

  46. clevershark says:

    “Federal law prohibits the use of any sort of intelligence or common sense in TSA screening areas”.

    You could just watch all the ambitious should-be-blue people clog the black line and swiftly go through the empty blue line.

  47. jeremybwilson says:


    If you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes (I did for five years) then shut the f*ck up.

    Being a TSO is a high stress customer service job where not only the public generally dislikes you (just short of FEMA and the IRS Tax Man) but management is para-military governed (like the Army) disciplinarian through and through. It’s bad enough to have to listen to passengers who think they deserve the world on a silver platter, it’s altogether unbearable to have Washington DC (Don’t Care) constantly changing the rules that you all love so much.

    So don’t take it out on the ground floor TSO (officer), instead write your stinking congressman or senator, or better yet vote for somebody who is either going to properly fund the agency (so issues like staffing can be addressed) or do away with it altogether. Vent at them, not a blue collar federal employee who probably would rather have a job elsewhere in the first place.

    It’s people like you who make me glad I’m back in the private sector making three times the wages.

    Next time I’m at an airport, I’ll be sure to tell the TSO’s at their station thank you and to keep up the good word, and if I hear people like you in line bitching and moaning about how bad TSA is, I’ll be sure to tell you go by a friggin bus ticket.

  48. Jim says:

    @axiomatic: This.

    I think they’re trying to fix the wrong side of the line here. Besides, as others have mentioned, as soon as Thanksgiving comes, all this proper lane selection goes completely out the window.

    Trying to be positive: does this mean Green line TSA agents will be more familiar with a family’s travel needs like this? And less like this?

  49. wobudong says:

    Hey. I took the train.

  50. Surprisingly, self selection is an idea from economics that generally works. I am a black diamond traveler. I put change, watch, wallet, and anything else that is gonna set of the metal detector in my briefcase before hitting security. I have my ID (federal employee badge, PIV-II in a month) on a plastic thing clips to my belt. I wear slip on shoes for travel, I have papers ready.

    I HATE standing behind old people, people with kids, and people with large amounts of carry on luggage that should have been checked (I wish the airlines would actually ENFORCE their carry on restrictions and gate check anything that doesn’t fit in their policy, but that’s a rant for another day). These people KLUDGE up security at National Airport and at Lambert St. Louis, two airports I frequent. Security at KCI is a little more rational, but that’s neither here nor there. Last time I was at Lambert, I got my flight shifted and had to hurry. I went the back way (If you walk down to the security for terminal C I think, you get a much shorter line), and got stuck behind a woman with two stroller age kids and a group of four old people. I am lucky to have made the flight. They were calling group 5 (of 5) as I got to the gate. A self selection that put single travelers apart from groups would have kept my cortisol levels a lot more level.

    Any rate, I think there’s gonna be confusion on the Blue and Black, but not as much as you’d think. I think there will be bitching from Breeders, but they already get tax breaks and more benefits from the higher taxes I pay (like a public school system) and other advantages, and their rugrats are the reason I own noise canceling headphones, so the least they can do is arrive earlier and let me pass in the fast line for fast people.

  51. Jim says:

    @jeremybwilson: That’s the sort of attitude that makes it such a well-loved organization in the first place. We’re ALL glad you’re “back in the private sector”.

  52. wobudong says:

    This 3-path system will make plenty of people mad and the rest helpessly laughing.

  53. wobudong says:

    As an older people, I resent your remarkonly for its stupidity and arrogance. Wait til you’re older, dummy, and then re-read your comment (assuming you read it at all).

    Older people who have traveled some are as adept as you, just wiser enough not to act superior. (Older people can’t take a punch in the nose well. You, on the other hand, sound like you need one.)

    Your problem is that you’re too important to fly in an airplane. Try flying without one.
    Next time you’re in the line, please wear your POTKETTLEBLACK T-shirt. I want to see you standing behind me….

  54. thatnameistaken says:

    Singles, gays and childless couples rejoice!

    i have little faith in this though – the Whole Foods lines are easy to figure out and Still half the people there get stumped by them.

  55. jeremybwilson says:

    All I was saying is that I think much of the anger and distrust leveled against the ground floor TSO is better directed at the people who are writing these policies and hoisting them not just the passengers but the employees they are asking to carry them out, even when it might be obvious to everyone how very little sense they might make.

    As for my attitude, I recognize I came off as innappropriately and for that I am apologetic, however I think I gave several fair examples of who to and how the travelling publics frustrations should be directed.

    To your last sentence, touche. Fair is fair.

    FWIW, I never ever spoke disrespectfully to a passenger and always tried to be empathetic to the needs of individual and families obviously in over their heads at the security checkpoint.

    For those of you who travel through Seatac (Seattle) that is where I was at and so I need to be fair in pointing out that we were considered one of the model examples, as opposed to some places like Reagan, Dulles, and Baltimore.

  56. Amelie says:

    @PotKettleBlack: Your opinions regarding Breeders and tax breaks, are irrelevant to this discussion. GDIAF

  57. Mr. Gunn says:

    Thanks, Jeremy, for sharing your insight from the other side. I think everyone here knows, however, that the low-level TSA employees get shafted every bit as bad as “civilian” travelers.

    When do we get our forehead tattoos?

  58. Geekybiker says:

    @wobudong: Meh. Old people tend to be slow. Driving, security lines, walking in the mall, whatever. Get over it. Count yourself lucky if you’re the exception.

  59. Amelie says:

    @Geekybiker: “Get over it,” translates to “You need to accept my opinion.” How about “getting over yourself.”

  60. alstein says:

    We need to abolish the TSA. Honestly I think they cause more harm then the terrorists.

  61. axiomatic says:

    @jeremybwilson: So you are saying that when a TSA (O?) low level employee is “making up the rules as he goes” I need to walk a mile in his shoes?

    Sorry, no.

    I take my job very seriously and do an excellent job EVERY TIME. I expect the same from TSA as well.

    Are you telling me that they do it right every time? If so then whats all the complaints about TSA for?

    You get a “E” for effort.

  62. Bay State Darren says:

    Did it ever occur to the TSA that, I don’t know, NOT EVERYBODY SKIS? I understand it, but I skied for 20+ years, but their are plenty of people who can’t relate to the activity, especially since it tends to be expensive. Hell, lots of people who do ski still can’t figure out what level trail they belong on.

  63. jeremybwilson says:

    To the statement “So you are saying that when a TSA…”

    Did I state that, no. Nice try though…

    Did I say that they do it right every time. No. Nice try. Nobody is perfect and never said they were.

    As for taking your own job seriously, well that’s all well and good but don’t expect something from a TSA employee that you yourself are not willing to give to them.

    Your first post about “doing their f*king job” really is what started this and it’s pretty clear by virtue of that alone, what you think of TSA employees, and that you don’t distinguish from them the incredibly convoluted and bureaucratically governed system that they are being asked to carry forth.

  64. axiomatic says:

    @jeremybwilson: You have my opinion exactly correct. Now prove me wrong.

    This security thing could be done correctly, right now it’s not, it’s a facade.

  65. MercuryPDX says:

    In skiing parlance, the black diamond is the most difficult and the green circle is easy. I think they got them backwards (The TSA? Never! They’re perfect!). It’s far easier for a frequent traveler with one bag to make it through security than a family or group with special needs.

  66. spinachdip says:

    See, most of my trips are 2-3 night hops where I can fit everything into a single carry-on bag. So I’ll get used to the black line, which is fine except once or twice or year, I’ll go on vacation with the girlfriend and we’ll be hauling more stuff. The problem is, once you go black, you can never go back.

  67. jonworld says:

    Thank god! The Colorado airport security lines are hell! I go to Colorado at least once a year and I dread them every time.

  68. jamesdenver says:

    Yeah cuz Durango just has so much traffic.

  69. rhombopteryx says:


    Godwin’s law, yes, but also true….

  70. rhombopteryx says:

    I hope as a Father you’re also explaining to your kid why the whole idea is offensive and ‘freedom-hating’ too.
    As a citizen I hope they scrap the whole thing. The quickest way to help people get on a plane is to not throw a useless security line in front of them at all, much less three lines.

  71. Jabes says:

    @MercuryPDX: I always thought that black diamond was for an expert skier — therefore, the black diamond sign at the airport is supposed to be for the “expert” traveler.

  72. Annika-Lux says:

    Why is it that the “casual traveler” looks like a redneck in a flannel shirt and a baseball cap? And I guess all seasoned travelers are women in smart business suits (with a skirt and not pants, of course) with their hands on their hips and a briefcase?

    Welcome to the United States of Amerika, comrade. Are your papers in order?

  73. MercuryPDX says:

    @Jabes: TWO black diamonds is expert.

    In the United States, the difficulty rating symbols are as follows:
    * Green Circle Easiest
    * Blue Square Intermediate
    * Black Diamond Difficult
    * Two Black Diamonds Expert
    * A Black Diamond inside of a Blue Square Variations of Intermediate and Difficult
    * A Green Circle inside of a Blue Square Variations of easy and intermediate
    * Orange Rectangle Terrain Park

  74. MercuryPDX says:

    @Jabes: So are they saying it’s easiest for families to get through security and difficult for everyday travellers?

  75. MercuryPDX says:

    Or option three: They are trying to make an already difficult process into a more confusing and difficult one.

  76. Maulleigh says:

    I disagree with more than one line. There should be one line. Period. It’s the most efficient way. If families want their own line, I guess it’s up to them–as an option. But there’s going to be resentment if you divide the wheat from the chaff too much.

  77. spinachdip says:

    @MercuryPDX: It depends on what you mean by “difficult”. For families, I imagine it would be difficult to navigate the security line with the same level of efficiency as an “expert” traveler. A slower, but a more relaxed line would be easier.

    Wait, are we actually arguing whether a ski slope metaphor used in a completely different setting perfectly parallels the signs at an actual ski slope? Really?

  78. MercuryPDX says:

    @spinachdip: Maybe. :)

    I think it’s no coincidence that the program is being tested in two of the larger Recreational Skiing destinations in the US.

    I think my point is that the symbols out of their normal context (Difficulty level of a trail) are confusing.

  79. lihtox says:

    @PotKettleBlack: I think there will be bitching from Breeders, but they already get tax breaks

    We have greater expenses, so think of it as an addition to the standard deduction.

    and more benefits from the higher taxes I pay (like a public school system)

    Assuming you’re not planning on snuffing it soon, those kids whose education you hate to pay for will become contributing members of the society you will be interacting with. If you’ve ever bemoaned the stupidity of politicians or clerks or TSA agents, you should happily support increased education funding and better public education. Public education benefits everyone, not just the kids.

    And as a parent with an infant, I would be happy to take the green line: getting through the line becomes much more complicated when you have a carseat and stroller, while you’re holding a baby, and I hate feeling like I’m holding up a line. (I already take off my shoes and put my keys and coins into my coat pocket before I get into line.)

  80. lihtox says:

    This will work only as long as there isn’t one line that’s much faster than the others. I don’t see any reason why the green and blue lines, for instance, wouldn’t have similar wait times. The black line could end up being a lot faster, so maybe we need some sort of penalty for people who clog it up: if you take more than 5 minutes to get through, you have to go through extra security, or something like that. Then again, maybe it’s like the “10 items or fewer” lane in the grocery store: that rule is typically only enforced by public shame.

    Third idea: put the scariest looking TSA agents on the black line.

  81. yikz says:

    @cmdr.sass: This won’t work unless it’s enforced. I fly 125K a year, and there are always a plethora of idiots who think they know what they’re doing, but end up holding up the line more than anything. I can’t stand it. The idea is fantastic. I’d LOVE to see a line for those who are prepared. The ID checker should be the gatekeeper… just like the soup nazi. And if you screw up, then security sends you out of the black diamond and over to the blue or green line.

    The really sad thing is that TSA has only a couple people at each checkpoint that can think on their own. The rest are too busy doing their comparmentalized little jobs. Shuffling grey bins. Sliding grey bins out of the xray machine. Stacking grey bins. Looking at tickets after you walk through teh metal detector. These people get paid $50K a year to be idiots.

    TSA isn’t very responsive. There could be 200 people backed up, and they have only one line going. Then when the line gets down, they finally decide to open up 2 more lines, and then they stand around. The worst is 6am flights. They open security at 5am, and there are hundreds of people waiting for those 6am flights. They open 1 or 2 lines and people are lucky to make their flights. And what do they do better than the non-TSA security force prior to 9-11? Security back then did exactly what the rules said. Nothing more, nothing less. So what benefit does TSA offer?

  82. stuny says:

    Here, let me solve everything:
    1. Each race gets its own line. This makes profiling easier.

    2. Children should be packed IN your luggage. If you have two kids, you can carry them on. Three or more, means you have to check some under the plane.

    3. Saavy business travelers have the right to go to the front of any line. FF cards grant them the right to shove and push lesser humans as desired.

    4. Instead of metal detectors, they should use microwaves. When your pocket change and body piercings heat up and electrify, you will think twice the next time.

    5. Good TSA agents should be given raises and thanked personally by travelers and their superiors. Homemade cookies and hearty handshakes are ideal ways to show gratitude for keeping us safe and as stress free as possible in a bad situation.

    6. Bad TSA agents should have to wait on their own lines and pass through the microwave with a pocket full of quarters and highly conductive scrotal piercings. They should then be forced to wear turbans and “Praise Allah” t-shirts and sit in coach between sweaty, drunk, flatulent passengers.

  83. LionelEHutz says:

    Do they have signs for typing TSA agents when they arrive to work?

    Red for the authoritarian hothead.
    Yellow for moderately stupid.
    Blue for dumber than a box of rocks.
    Green for too smart to work at TSA.

  84. rdunlap says:

    Interesting that this is being presented as a pilot at these two airports. For the most part, this looks like the system in use at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta (albeit without the ski slope labeling). At Hartsfield (at least, the last time I flew with my family):

    * Business class, first class and elite FF have their own entry into security and (I think) their own security check points.
    * Officially, families with strollers and other special needs passengers go through the regular security line. However, on busy days, security monitors the line for such passengers and escorts them to a point right before boarding passes are shown where a gatekeeper opens a barrier strip to let them break into the line. After clearing that first hurdle, they are segregated back out into a set of check points that are kept cordoned off, with another gatekeeper opening and closing the barrier strip to let in appropriate travelers.

    Overall, the net effect works to the benefit of all travelers. The special needs families get filtered out of the main flow of traffic to keep the average traveler moving, while the special needs families get a shorter line which allows them to clear security not that much further behind a single traveler in a main line, once the extended unpacking/packing time is taken into account.

  85. Jim says:

    @jeremybwilson: You do make a good point, but “I’m just doing my job” doesn’t always appease well.

    I think people, even TSA employees, like to think they will never mindlessly follow policies (especially people who frequent this website), and expect the same from their fellow humans, not usually thinking that sometimes you just have to have a job to feed yourself.

    I believe most of the TSA frustration is with agents’ failure/inability/etc. to exercise a little common sense by their own free will – which you list as a frustration the agents share. So, if nobody is happy or feels like the Agency is working well, that’s a clear sign of the need for change.

  86. southie says:

    I’ll be honest that I’m sort of looking forward to a line in which the woman ahead of me, turns and states, “Wait, we have to take off our shoes?” right as we approach the Pick-Up-Tub-And-Separate-All-Your-Stuff area. Me? I’ve had my shoes off, my copious amounts of liquids out, and my laptop all neatly organized for about five minutes. Of course, in this fantasy world, my pasty British fiance wouldn’t pull the SSS codes every time we flew to see his family, and we wouldn’t be given the eyebrow/extra questions when going through both EU and American customs. BTW, it is a hoot when the TSA states: “Oh, how do you know what the SSS code is?” Ha ha ha ha ha.

  87. yadz says:

    has anyone seen this youtube video, tsa gangstaz?
    it’s a hip hop parody about airport security
    pretty funny and rings true too:

    + Watch video

  88. Cranky Customer says:

    I lurve you, PotKettleBlack. You’re my new hero — and clearly a seasoned traveler. Sorry, breeders, but your clan has proved themselves to be major pains in our arses in airports and on airplanes. It’s too late now to be offended.

  89. Javert says:

    About time. Anyone who has travelled through Orlando can truly appreciate this new concept. It is not that hard. I travel a lot. When I get to the point, my belt is already gone, shoes off, laptop out…let’s go.

    I am not sure why people fear this…seems rather odd. Something done to increase efficiency is being demonized without much rationale (if any). Gee, why would we want to speed up the process at the security area for those of us who are not travelling with 4 kids, each with a back pack, shoes, coats, etc.

    Why would someone with a family be offended? For the aforementioned reasons, it takes much longer for you to go through security than I…why should I wait. You can get 10 ‘expert’ travellers through quicker than a family of 5. It is not like you have to sit in the back of the plane (though the segregation of children under 5 is something to consider).

    IF someone can offer a reasonable, nonsmartassed discussion as to why this is wrong, please, enlighten us for whom this is a blessing.

  90. MisterE says:

    InSoc is DoublePlusGood for your safety!

  91. celestebai says:

    They would pilot a family only line at the Salt Lake City airport.

  92. RandomHookup says:

    walk briskly and frown a lot…

    …and appear to be talking to themselves.

  93. BenP says:

    My Dad saw these in Orlando on his last flight out to LA. No one was in the family line so he took that one, despite traveling solo. Real “black diamond” travelers just choose the shortest line. It’s all about the downhill speed right? Plus, you gotta have time for a Cinnabon (i.e. airport valium) pre-flight, right?

  94. mattfour says:


    Hey man, I hate to say this, but as a VERY frequent traveler (4 flights per week), I agree about 90% of the time about older/elderly people in security line.

    Now, some elderly people can’t move as fast as the rest of us, and so there is no reason to be mad at that particular group. One day, we all end up there, and I try to help them through the line. But they’re not the group I’m referring too.

    No, I’m referring to the 60-somethings that are perfect abled, obviously retired and going somewhere on vacation, and they’ll be damned if they actually attempt to move through the security line in any type of quick fashion. I think it’s the attitude of “I just don’t care that I’m holding this line up” that gets me. I sit there behind them, with my laptop out, my one little valece carry-on, my shoes off, NO change in my pockets (it’s always left at home on travel days), and my 3.5 ounce bottles or less fit into a nice little plastic bag. They move at a snail’s pace, obliviously to the hundred people waiting behind them.

    Quite simply, I understand the rules, and so should everyone else who has flown in the last 8 years. I’m not a fan of the extra work, but when you get down to it, the inconvenience is pretty minor if you simply plan ahead slightly. Besides that fact that you should know BEFORE you get to the airport (Hey kids, there’s this cool thing called the Internet! It tells you anything you want to know, like what you can bring in a carry-on!), this information is usually presented in multiple fashion:

    a) Via written sign before you enter the checkpoint line, in multiple languages
    b) Made via pre-recorded announcement
    c) Made via announcement by an actual TSA rep standing at the front of the line

    Does actually knowing this information make me “too important” to fly, Wobudong? That attitude of sweet ignorance is no longer acceptable in today’s travel world. Don’t exempt older people as “wiser” – in my experience, they think it’s still 1970, so they can haul 5 or 6 bags onboard and bring full size bottles of anything, and make a big stink about not being able to carry on a 6 inch knife (True story! Happened on my way to Iowa from JFK a few weeks back).

    Look, if there were any way to make this system truly work, that would be great. However, like many other posters today, I just don’t see it happening.

    Like the rest of my fellow frequent fliers, I will sit there silently waiting for the day when the American public finally realizes that the rules have changed, and we can all smooth over the process by simply being prepared for a trip to the airport.