Within a decade, air travelers will be able to walk casually through the "checkpoint of the future," a high-tech hallway that will scan passengers' bodies, take fingerprints, analyze body language, and detect metal and worrying liquids—all on the way to the food court and duty-free shopping. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an industry trade group, is developing the new technology, which aims to free passengers from tiresome lines, rude staff, and uncomfortable prodding and poking while giving government security officials more access than ever to people's personal details.
Perry Flint, head of corporate communications for the Americas at IATA, says the new system will be more efficient and will improve the passenger experience. "We think it will be less intrusive," he says. But questions about how much data will be collected, how much will be retained, and how it will be used remain unanswered.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will operate and manage the new technology, and the New York Port Authority plans to install the walkthrough detectors in new terminals being built at the Newark and LaGuardia airports. Eventually all 600 million passengers who enjoy the TSA's services every year could be walking through these nosy corridors.