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'Zip Lane' debuting at Bob Hope Airport

March 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A new idea is being tested out at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank to speed passengers through security lines. The idea is to reward those who are carrying only one small bag.If you have a beef with the way our airports function, get in line. Since 9-11, security checks have become exasperatingly more in-depth. Shoes come off, liquids are confiscated and the lines have grown exponentially.

But now the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is stealing a page from the grocery store playbook. They're testing an express lane.

Travelers carrying just one bag that will fit under the seat in front of them are directed to what the TSA is calling the "Zip Lane."

"What we're trying to do is get passengers through a little faster and encourage them to travel lighter, to make the process easier on our security officers," said TSA Spokesman Nico Melendez.

Because there are fewer bags to search, the TSA says the Zip Lane moves about twice as fast as the other checkpoints.

It's only being used between 6 and 8 in the morning, and 4 and 6 in the afternoon, peak hours for business travelers.

"Having innovative stuff like this, moving traffic through, it's good for the economy," said traveler Eugene Charbonneau. "I believe it keeps people on time for their jobs."

Burbank is the only airport in the U.S. employing the Zip Lane.

But as revolutionary as it is, some travelers are expressing reservations about the express lane.

"Well, so far it's not very express," said traveler Dorothy Johnson. "I've been waiting in line about half an hour."

"I'm not sure how express it is," said traveler Mitch Bloom. "People are confused back there. They don't know what's going on. So we'll see how it works."

The TSA admits it would like to get more zip in its Zip Lane, but it's just a trial program right now. They say they're trying to work out the bugs. They also add, whether you save two minutes or 20 minutes, you're still saving time.

"When you're talking a 15-minute wait at the security checkpoint and you save somebody five minutes, that's a third of the time that they didn't have to wait at the security checkpoint," said Melendez. "They can go now and get a cup of coffee and wait for their flight."

If the Zip Lane catches on here at Burbank, the TSA says it will pop up in other airports around the country, helping countless travelers get a move on, but they'll still have to get their shoes off.

 

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