Pilot programs at Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) are testing ways to modernize the passenger experience. SEA Spot Saver explores digital reservations for the TSA general screening security checkpoints, and happyhover™, allows travelers to check in and drop off luggage without touching the electronic screens.
“We can use technology to make the travel experience more streamlined and intuitive,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Sam Cho. “Touchless solutions reduce stress for those traveling today, but are the kind of innovations that will make the airport safer and more efficient for years to come. We appreciate the partnership of passengers and airlines to help test these programs for the benefit of our community.”
SEA is one of the first airports in the U.S. to investigate a “virtual queuing” system as a solution for crowded general screening lines. Called SEA Spot Saver, it is a free, reservation-based system for TSA general screening security checkpoints. The pilot program will test if SEA Spot Saver successfully reduces wait times and crowding to better maintain physical distancing.
The pilot will operate daily through August 31, 2021 at Checkpoints 2 and 5. The pilot will run from 4 a.m. to noon to reduce congestion during SEA’s peak morning travel period. During busy travel periods checkpoints can serve between 40-50 percent of daily passengers in the peak morning period before 11 a.m. Security screening zones are one of the most tightly constrained and consistently crowded areas of the airport.
SEA Spot Saver is free for all general screening passengers who are traveling without a trusted traveler program to help provide better screening experience and create efficiency where we have the highest demand. SEA Spot Saver allows passengers to arrive at the airport and experience contact-free, expedited screening without an extra cost, membership, or account. TSA PreCheck passengers should be screened at TSA Checkpoint 4 in order to still use their PreCheck benefits such as not having to remove their shoes and electronics. All CLEAR customers can go to their dedicated lane at each security checkpoint as well to have their expedited experience.
One experience is designed for Alaska Airlines passengers at TSA Checkpoint 5 with Pangiam, and powered by Whyline and Copenhagen Optimization. The second experience by VHT is available to Delta Air Lines and all other passengers at TSA Checkpoint 2.
“These are the innovations and ideas that we love to make our guest experiences more convenient and stress-free, especially as more people get back flying again,” said Charu Jain, Alaska’s senior vice president of merchandising and innovation. “With very little effort, guests can lean on technology to get them through the security process quicker.”
“Our vision for the future of travel is aimed at creating a more seamless, less stressful experience for all,” said Helda Durham, Delta’s Director of Airport Customer Service in SEA. “The SEA Spot Saver pilot does just that for Seattle customers, which is why we are excited to support our great partners at Port of Seattle and the TSA in their efforts.”
Dan Tanciar, Chief Innovation Officer at Pangiam said he is confident the pilot program will help reduce queue crowding, enable social distancing, and provide a smoother and safer experience for travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Meanwhile, Matt DiMaria CEO of VHT said that following the pilot completion later this summer, the company will evaluate usage with passengers, customer feedback, and increases to line efficiency. “If successful, we hope to launch a broader program.”
Moreover, SEA is evaluating a touchless technology with happyhover™ – where fingers are detected above an electronic screen – on common-use check-in kiosks available to various airline passengers, including jetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Korean Air, Volaris, Air Canada, and Frontier. With this pilot program, hardware is mounted discreetly onto the top of the kiosk and creates an infrared sheet of light. The technology emulates a touch interface in mid-air so that the touchscreen responds when the light is broken. This removes the need for travelers to touch superfluous surfaces during the check-in process.