Airlines in the United States may not win many awards for customer satisfaction, but at least Delta Airlines is taking steps to combat one of the most notorious features of modern flying: Long security lines.
Delta has just installed two new "innovation lanes" in the Atlanta airport that allow up to five fliers at a time to prepare carry-on luggage to be scanned, rather than the one-at-a-time process that has thus far persisted.
The new lanes "should double the productivity of any given lane," says Gil West, Delta's Chief Operating Office in a video promoting the new system. "So for every lane that we install, it's effectively two lanes."
The idea is classic parallel processing. Instead of one person placing their belongings in the containers at a time, five people can get ready and then place the containers on a parallel bar to be scanned when they are ready. The system also returns empty containers to the front of the line without requiring a TSA agent to take the time to bring a group of them back up front.
The lane still requires passengers to go through the same old security process. You still have to remove your shoes, take out your laptop and line up for a body scan or metal detector. But at least now one slow person cannot hold up the entire line, and those who fly light will be able to skip past as many as four poky unloaders.
Surprisingly, Delta claims that it invested almost $1 million in the new system all on its own and is working with the TSA to bring the lanes into more airports. That's great, Delta. Now can we please have our legroom back.