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TSA Provides Relief for Families

Anyone who has traveled by air since 9-11, knows about the increased security measures before entering the boarding area for flight travel.

Going through the security lanes can be difficult, even for the seasoned traveler, traveling alone. From needing to place all toiletries and cosmetics in sizes no greater than 3 ounces. in carry-ons in quart-sized zip-lock bags (the 3-1-1 rule), to having to remove your shoes, to needing to “declare” any snacks and beverages (including expressed breast milk) for babies and children, and needing to remove electronics such as laptops and camcorders from the bags is a hassle. Add to that needing the stroller and carseat when traveling with children, and there’s a whole new dimension to a potentially unpleasant travel experience. Families become a nuisance to business travelers, and those same families, often feel the sting of stares as you inevitably hold up the line with collapsing the stroller and dealing with all of the gear.

Finally getting it right!

In an effort to streamline the process of flight travel, the TSA announced that it is creating different lanes for the different travel skill-levels and needs of passengers. In March, the TSA started the Diamond Self-Select program, where passengers who are familiar with security check-in protocol (such as removing outer garments like coats, removing shoes and belts, placing toiletries and electronics in the bins, and removing change and metal items from pockets), to have a veritable fast lane. Designed after expertise trails at ski slopes, the Diamond Self Select (sometimes called Back-Diamond Select) programs premiered at Salt Lake City International and Denver International Airports. The Self-Select program includes:

“Expert, for the business traveler who flies several times a month; Casual, for passengers that travel less frequently, but are familiar with the security process; and Family/Special Assistance, for passengers traveling with small children or strollers, elderly passengers and passengers who may need special assistance.”

According to MSN’s the Middle Seat, in an article originally published in the Wall Street Journal:

“Putting families and people with special needs like wheelchairs into separate lanes allows them to relax a bit without road warriors pushing them to move faster. As a result, they set off fewer ‘nuisance alarms’ because they prepare better and get metal, shoes and liquids properly into X-ray bins. The family lanes move slower than lanes moved before the change, on average, but many families seem to like the pace.”

Since March, when the program was initiated at Salt Lake City International and Denver International Airports, other airports around the country have added the program including Chicago’s Midway, Boston’s Logan Airport, Orlando, Florida and Spokane, Washington. Most recent additions include Pittsburgh International Airport, Dallas Love Field, and there are rumors of the program starting later in June at Detroit Metro Airport. Maybe your city will be next. Security changes such as the Diamond Self-Select program, may get some family travelers to return to the skies this summer.

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