Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Let me count the ways

Washington Dulles airport now has 4 separate security checkpoints for non-employees. These include:

  1. Regular security checkpoint. This is the old tried and true security queue on the check-in level of the airport. These are intended for use by the average traveler and frequently, especially around 4PM, has long, slow moving lines.
  2. Premium security checkpoint. This checkpoint is co-located with the regular security checkpoint but it has its own dedicated queue. This queue is restricted to premium travelers (those in first/business class or those traveling on a flight where they have premium status -- such as United's Mileage Plus Premier members). This queue is typically much shorter and sometimes moves faster than the regular security queue. Dulles added premium security lines a couple of years ago.
  3. Registered Traveler (Clear) security checkpoint. This checkpoint is restricted to people who have paid the annual $120 fee and subjected themselves to a background check. The registered traveler checkpoint at Dulles is managed by Clear. This checkpoint is down on the arrivals level near baggage claim 8 and is shared with the Employee checkpoint. Very short lines, quick processing (other than the time the x-ray scanner got a bag stuck in it with mine in there as well).
  4. Dulles Diamond security checkpoint. This is a new checkpoint that just recently opened on the arrivals level near baggage claim 7. The signs for this checkpoint say it is only for expert travelers (2 trips/month) traveling alone, with only one carry on item and all their liquids already in bags. Theoretically these frequent travelers know what they are doing and the line can move along at a good clip. I tried this checkpoint on my trip up to Boston yesterday. There was no verification that I was a frequent traveler (though if they've read my blog, they will know). I think any single traveler could walk in there. I also verified that you can go through with a carry-on bag and computer bag (the sign says only 1 carry on item so I thought they might be restricting those of us who also bring along computer bags). So it would seem that anyone traveling alone could use this queue (and it was totally empty when I came through mid-day). Perhaps they will have tighter checks when the queue backs up once people notice it is here.

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