Green, Blue, Black :: Denver International Airport’s Security System

The Transportation Security Administration Denver International Airportis applying ski resort-style signage at Denver International Airport in an effort to speed up the dreaded security checks.

The agency had a two-week test using the ski slope color-coding of green, blue and black. On ski slopes, green means novices; blue is for intermediate skills and black designates experts only.

It’s the same at the airport. The green line is for groups, families with children (and strollers) or travelers with special needs. Blue designates the security line for the “casual” traveler who has more than one carry-on bag or isn’t entirely familiar with the rules. The black line is for the security line experts, those frequent travelers or business travelers with little luggage and knowledge of the system’s quirks. There are icons and text for those not familiar with the ski trail designation system.

Initial reports indicate the change is a good one. Families with small children and all the carry-on stuff that comes with small children were happy to be able to take their time getting through the screening process without feeling pressured. And business travelers were happy to zip through the black line without facing the frustrating delay from an unknowledgeable or slow traveler in front of them.

Not all of the airport’s 10 screening stations are involved in the test and travelers themselves, not the TSA, select which line to get in. Just like on the ski slopes, I imagine there will be people who get in over their heads by choosing a line (or ski trail) more advanced than their abilities.

After having gone through the pre-holiday weekend lines at DIA last week with just one carry-on bag, slip-off shoes and no belt, but stuck behind a weighed-down family with an infant, any effort to improve the process is a good thing.

David Bassett, the TSA’s local director, told the Denver Post that the project could become a model for the rest of the country. A similar test started in Salt Lake City last week with what Bassett said were equally positive reactions to the family line option.

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