The TSA's Randomizer App Might Let You Keep Your Shoes On Next Time You Go Through Airport Security

Only pre-sceened members of the TSA's PreCheck program could waltz through security without having to remove their jackets, shoes, and belts while keeping their laptops tucked away. But that might soon change.

In its never-ending mission to suck less, the Transportation Security Administration unveiled a new app called the "Randomizer" that aims to help travelers scoot through security checkpoints faster. You might even be able to keep your Evian bottles.

Until now, only pre-sceened members of the TSA's PreCheck program could waltz through security without having to remove their jackets, shoes, and belts while keeping their laptops tucked away. Participation in the program costs an extra $85, and the majority of passengers don't take advantage of it.

In other words, those PreCheck lines are underutilized, which is where the Randomizer comes in. What the system does, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, is randomly sort passengers into either the speedier lanes or the slower traditional ones after they have been quickly screened by explosive-sniffing dogs and assessed on the fly by behavioral detection officers. (The video below helps explain how that works.) Once that traveler's identity is verified by a TSA agent, they step onto the Randomizer mat, which lights up and tells them where to go next.

The TSA describes it as part of a good-faith approach called "managed inclusion," which assumes that the overwhelming majority of passengers don't pose a threat, and, in theory, it should help cut down on some of the more horrifying examples or racial profiling taking place in airports. Per the agency's website, "TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening."

Without the hassle of undressing, PreCheck can make the process twice as fast, scanning about 300 people her hour. The more essential question, though, is: Does managed inclusion still keep passengers safe?

Right now, the security technique is being tested at 100 airports across the country. And, if it's deemed effective in alleviating logjams without compromising flyer safety, with any luck, you might just be able to keep your shoes on the next time you travel.

[Image: Flickr user Josh Hallett]

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  • A better question would be whether the entirety of TSA’s operation “keeps passengers safe”? Experts make a convincing argument that the answer is no—and certainly not worth the colossal waste of resources and destruction of liberty either way.