The TSA began testing a "self-select" lane pilot this week in the Salt Lake City airport, with further testing soon at the Denver airport. In short, passengers can "self-select" one of three security screening lanes through which to proceed. The TSA describes these lanes as follows:
"[T]he green lane is for families traveling with children or people who need special assistance. These folks may not travel that often and need extra help with the procedures and assistance navigating security. The blue lane is for casual travelers who are somewhat familiar with the procedures and have multiple carry-ons. The expert, or black diamond lane is for those who know the procedures well and always arrive at the checkpoint with appropriate items removed and limited carry-on luggage."
First of all, how many government press releases use the word "folks"? Second, regardless of designations, I don't see this choose-your-own-line system being too successful. Would people voluntarily label themselves a "casual traveler" and choose a slower lane, instead of an "expert traveler" who can use a fast lane? This is America. Don't we all think we're above average at everything? We may not travel that often, but we feel perfectly capable of handling the "expert" line, unlike those other "casual" travelers over there. . . . Of course, I'd be willing to swallow my pride if the "casual traveler" line was shorter than the "expert" line. Which leads to the next point-- if people are "self-selecting" which line to join, do you think the 20th business traveler isn't going to jump in the family line of six people? In other words, it'll be the same game we've always played: choose the shortest line possible.
Admittedly, I've come down a little harsh on the TSA once or twice before. This time, I think their heart's in the right place. I'll also concede that Travelin' Mom and I take more time than, well, pretty much anyone when we have to get TJ, his accoutrements, and his Sesame Street posse through security. And it would be nice to feel that we're not holding up others who could move more quickly. For that reason, I can see where a designated security line for families and those needing special assistance would come in handy. But, for now, these lane designations carry less authority than the "10 items or less" line at the grocery store.
So, unless you really are a "beginner" traveler, you'll most likely do what you've always done when heading to security screening: choose the shortest line.