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You May Not Have To Take The Laptop Out Of Your Bag At LAX For (Too) Much Longer

At LAX's Terminal 1, a new 3D system allows for faster inspection. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)
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It's Labor Day Weekend. So it's the perfect time of year to find yourself at LAX with more than a million of your closest friends.

And don't forget all those other fun times at the airport: fumbling for a boarding pass while dozens of people behind you tap their feet, or racing to pull electronics out of carry-ons in front of impatient officials.

Well, cherish them while you can, because soon they may be a thing of the past.

TSA is using the holiday as an opportunity to test its newest security machines. For now they're only at one security checkpoint in Terminal 1, but if all works out, they could be rolled out across the country. The aim: faster and safer security checks.

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Here's what you can expect:


Passengers stand in line to use the new ID scanner that might make boarding passes in security lines a thing of the past. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)

The first machine being tested takes away the need for boarding passes for identification. You'll still need to show them to the airline before you get on the plane. But to get through security, you just show your ID. The machine scans it and compares it directly with TSA's Secure Flight database. So as long as you're cleared to fly and your face matches the face on the ID, you're good to go.


The other machine is a 3D scanner for carry-on baggage. Passengers pile their bags, shoes, jackets into just one of those plastic bins, and the security officer manipulates the image to see things at the bottom that aren't visible from the old 2D view from the top.

At LAX's Terminal 1, a new 3D system allows for faster inspection. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)

Spokeswoman Lorie Dankers says they've used machines like this on checked baggage for awhile, but now that they're smaller and more efficient, they can be used at security checkpoints, too.

"They're able to zoom, they're able to rotate, they're able to slice the image, [like] a CAT scan at the doctor's office," she says.

One other plus: officials hope soon you won't have to pull out your liquids either.

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New security measures can bring about skepticism, but at LAX passengers sounded excited about the shorter security lines that would hopefully result.

"It makes the process faster, so I think that's pretty cool," said Jasmine Robinson.

International flier Laverne Waddington says she's not bothered by the more detailed picture of what's in her bag.

"Looking at stuff in my bag doesn't bother me one bit," she says. "And if it's safer and faster that's great."


Keith Jeffries, the TSA federal security director at LAX, says the agency plans to have 40 of the 3D scanners in security checkpoints around the country by the end of the year. But he estimates it could be 7-8 years before these machines replace current technology nationwide. So they won't offer much relief this Labor Day.

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