About Me

Steven Frischling
Live: HVN
Work: JFK-SFO-CDG-HKG
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Steven Frischling, aka: Fish, is globe hopping professional photographer, airline emerging media consultant working with large global airlines and founder of The Travel Strategist. Fish has racked up more than 1,000,000 miles since he started to track his mileage in 2005.

Fish's travel tends to be less than leisurely, including flying from New York to Basrah, Iraq, for six hours; Hong Kong for eight hours, Kuwait City for two hours and traveling around the world in 3.5 days to shoot a series of photo assignments in 4 cities and 4 countries on 3 separate continents.

Fish grew up at the end of New York's JFK International Airport's Runway 4R/22L, which probably explains his enjoyment of watching planes, fly overhead. When not shooting photos or traveling Fish designs camera bags, hones is expertise on airline security and spends his time at home cheering for the Red Sox with his 3 kids 102 yards from the ocean.

New TSA "Self Select" Security Lanes – The Good & The Bad

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

8/05/2008 – New TSA “Self Select” Security Lanes – The Good & The Bad

The U.S Department of Homeland Security‘s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) started a new experiment to speed up security line at some airports; this new idea comes from the trail designation on ski trails. The Circle/Novices. The Square/Intermediate; The Diamond/Expert

Officially the new the TSA is known as Self Select Lines. It allows flyers to choose their own security lane based on their own knowledge of how they travel. The breaks down of the lanes are as follows

– Green-Circle is for families and those who need special assistance. This is for those flying with kids, strollers, in large groups, those who need assistance and those totally unfamiliar with the TSA screening process (which is more people than you’d think).

– Blue-Square is for flyers that are somewhat familiar with the TSA check point procedures. It is also intended for those flying with multiple bags, however with a limit of one carry on and one personal item, how many bags can someone be carrying (even the experienced flyers generally fly with 1+1 bags).

– Black-Diamond is the lane intended for the Expert Flyer. This lane should be used only by the who know the TSA procedures inside and out; those who don’t fumble at what they need to leave what they can take; those traveling light (I don’t travel light, but I can get my stuff ready for the screening in about 30 seconds or less).

I recently encountered this new system that is in a limited number of airports, at Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) and see the good and the bad in this system.

Rather than tear the new system apart, as I have seen in a few online forums, I’m going to start off by saying that I think this new system can have some significant advantages. If flyers are honest about their skill of navigating an airport, and enter the lane that accurately represents their knowledge of passing through a TSA checkpoint, this system can speed up security lines. Self governing can be a great way to weed people out of the line, and gives the TSA a better chance of sizing up that they are dealing with and who they need to help.

The downsides to these Self Select Lines are when people enter the wrong line. At Boston Logan Airport’s Terminal A I entered the “expert” and stood not moving for around 9 minutes. I saw people in line with their shoes on, no laptops out, and one person arguing that they were flying in first-class so they should be entitled to use the “expert” line. Flying in first class does not make you an expert, it just means you paid more or got upgraded. I quickly moved to the “novice” line, behind a family with two small children and one very inexperienced flyer. I was through the checkpoint in less than 3 minutes. If people enter the wrong line thinking the “expert” line will move faster, when they are not a experienced in passing through the check points, they just slow down the line for everyone.

If inexperienced flyers think they were getting dirty looks at a standard TSA check point by going slowly (and I have no problem with people going their own speed, especially those who don’t fly often) they should check out the dirty looks they get when they slow up the “expert” line to a crawl.

Overall if flyers are honest and choose the right lanes I think this new “Self Select Lines” can be a great way to speed up the time it takes to get through security. It is nice to see the TSA using some ingenuity in finding new ways to make the travel experience smoother and easier under an increasingly more difficult environment.

Happy Flying!

3 Responses

  1. People don’t wish to label themselves as novices. It would work better if the airlines pre-coded travellers based on whether they were frequent flyers, travelling with children, etc. Otherwise the majority are going to end up wanting to consider themselves experts, which is why many skiers go to hospital every winter.

  2. Jennifer Stone Photography

    Excellent tips as always! I’ve experienced quite a few of these rude behaviors on planes. I think you should publish an etiquette guide for flying, maybe the airlines can put it in the seat pockets with the emergency instructions!

  3. [...] have written about a number of positive things within the TSA, such as the TSA’s Self Select Lanes. This initiative was very forward thinking of the agency, and once the kinks were ironed out it [...]

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