In today's Spokesman Review we have an interview with Larry Krauter, Director of Spokane International Airport and Felts Field. Here's an excerpt:
Q. What changes might passengers see in the near future?
A. I want to humanize the airport. We’re working on free Wi-Fi and baggage carts. And we want to make the airport experience more fun. It’s a little too quiet. Maybe we will bring in school choirs to sing carols during the Christmas season.
Q. What can be done to ease passenger frustration with the screening process?
A. The government is finding better ways to assess risk. And the technology is improving. This will sort itself out to be a friendlier experience for the travelers.
Security is governed by federal regulations so I don't know that we can ever "humanize" an airport. When a TSA explosives trace detection machine alerts on a baby stroller and results in an eight-month-old being patted down we've proven to ourselves and the world that we have strayed way off course. The way we treat everybody as suspect you'd think we were suffering attacks as frequently as they did in Brazil (the movie). We are more concerned with threats we can imagine instead of those likely to happen. Consequently, airports are hardly the friendliest places to be, I don't care how friendly the agent tries to be during the pat down.
As Mr Krauter mentions, the government is coming up with ways to assess risk. As to whether they are better or not remains to be seen. TSA is testing a system called Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) (PDF file) designed to detect an intention to cause harm.
As for where precisely FAST is being tested, that for now remains a closely guarded secret. The DHS says that although the first round was completed at the end of March, more testing is in the works, and the agency is concerned that letting people know where the tests are taking place could affect the outcome. "I can tell you that it is not an airport, but it is a large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting," says [DHS spokesman John] Verrico.
Hmmm, a suitable substitute for an operational setting. That could be...um...anywhere, huh?
It will be so worth it to get free Wi-Fi and baggage carts.