Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is one of the first airports in North America to test a “virtual queue” system. (Image MAR)
News: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is introducing two experiences with technology to modernize the travel experience and help people stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The technology: The airport, or SEA, as it was renamed last year, is testing a way for travelers to make digital reservations for TSA general control security checkpoints. Called SEA Spot Saver, the free program is designed as a virtual queuing system to help people avoid standing in crowded security lines where social distancing is difficult. Users can reserve a spot in advance and will be notified when to proceed to a TSA checkpoint. (The program’s website has many frequently asked questions.)
SEA is also introducing contactless technology called happyhover, where a user can wear an electronic screen that detects hovering fingers without any physical contact. The technology is being used at check-in kiosks available to various airline passengers, including jetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Korean Air, Volaris, Air Canada and Frontier.
Where and how long ?: A SEA Spot Saver program is designed for Alaska Airlines passengers at TSA Checkpoint 5 with Pangiam, and features WhyLine and Copenhagen Optimization. The second VHT experience is available to Delta Air Lines and all other passengers at TSA Checkpoint 2.
The pilot is being tested every day through Aug. 31 and will run from 4 a.m. to noon to reduce congestion during the SEA’s peak morning travel period.
Exceptions: While SEA Spot Saver does not require a separate travel program or membership, TSA PreCheck passengers must continue to be screened at TSA Checkpoint 4 in order to continue using their PreCheck benefits, such as not having to remove their shoes or devices. electronic All CLEAR customers can also go to their dedicated lane at each security checkpoint for an expedited experience.
Long-term outlook: The airport is hopeful that less time spent in security lines will translate into more time skipping lines, shopping or dining, or visiting family and friends before flying.
“We can use technology to make the travel experience more streamlined and intuitive,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Sam Cho in a statement. “Contactless solutions reduce stress for today’s travelers, but they are the kind of innovations that will make the airport safer and more efficient for years to come.”
Whats Next: Following the completion of the pilot test later this summer, SEA will evaluate usage with passengers, customer feedback and increases in the efficiency of the line. If successful, the airport hopes to launch a larger program.