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New airport screening system could cut long lines

June 7, 2011 12:04:14 AM PDT
A new screening system could cut down on the long lines at the airport. The system would feature iris scanners to match a passenger's eye to his or her passport.

The International Air Transport Association unveiled a mock-up Tuesday in Singapore of what it dubbed the "Checkpoint of the Future."

"Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity," IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said. "That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping."

There would also be information chips inside passports to identify passengers who may pose a security risk.

Travelers would have to pass through one of three tunnels and be subject to different degrees of searches depending on their security risk.

The system could be up and running within five years.

"It's something that's long overdue," said U.S. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole. "We're not at the checkpoint of the future yet but we're working toward that. I think eventually we will see something similar."

The TSA has been working for the last six months on developing a system that could differentiate passengers by security risk to cut down on needless checks, Pistole said.

"One size does not fit all," Pistole said.

The TSA will likely start a pilot program this year in some airports that allows frequent flyers or other travelers with clean records to receive minimal checks, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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