The US Transportation Security Administration is taking suggestions for how to improve airport security lines, and they're even offering a reward.
The TSA must be as frustrated as most passengers by delayed security lines, because the agency is offering a total of $15,000 (NZ$17,674.4) for the best ideas to improve the system. The top submissions from the public will win at least US$2,500 from that pot, with the best idea earning at least US$5,000.
The agency spends significant resources looking for ways to improve, and speeding up the lines is an obvious and transparent way to improve customer service.
According to the challenge, the TSA is looking for the "Next Generation Checkpoint Queue Design Model." It's asking participants to take a scientific approach and create a model "to meet the dynamic security screening environment."
In other words, this is unlikely to be easy money: The complex problem of dealing with growing numbers of travellers and finding ways to handle multiple lines and passenger needs is straight out of an advanced mathematics exam.
If you can figure out how to accommodate lines made up of 50 per cent regular passengers, 30 per cent TSA PreCheck designees, 10 per cent "premier" passengers, 7 per cent employees and 3 per cent passengers with disabilities - while also accounting for different group sizes and airport layouts - head over to the InnoCentive website and submit your idea before Aug. 15.
In the meantime, Mashable has some suggestions for improving airport security that do not require advanced calculations.
IMPROVE THE TRAYS
How many people is TSA employing to collect and circulate the plastic trays for personal belongings? It's bad enough to warrant jokes about whether TSA actually stands for Tray Stacking Agency.
There has to be a better way.
The trays could be returned automatically, on a belt that runs below the machine, or they could be attached to the belt itself. No more waiting for the agent to bring the dolly full of trays around because the person in front of you took six.
Or offer some other way to quell our fears of catching some kind of foot fungus while we shuffle through the scanners sans shoes.
PROVIDE MORE ROOM AFTER THE X-RAY
The worst moment at the airport, every single time: Grabbing shoes, bags, belt and random loose items from the security tray and then shuffling over to the benches randomly placed around a corner.
TSA should consider the other side of airport security as much as the entry; providing enough room for you to get your things and put your shoes back on is the right thing to do.