SEA Airport trialling two touchless solutions to promote seamless travel

Seattle-Tacoma’s two pilot programmes, SEA Spot Saver and happyhover™, will work to improve efficiency and modernise the passenger experience.

SEA Airport trialling two touchless solutions to promote seamless travel

Credit: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is innovating with seamless, touchless travel in order to improve ease and wellness at the airport.

Two pilot programmes are testing ways to modernise the passenger experience: ‘SEA Spot Saver’, which explores digital reservations for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) general screening security checkpoints; and happyhover™, a technology deployed to airline check-in kiosks for travellers to check in and drop off luggage without touching the electronic screens.

“We can use technology to make the travel experience more streamlined and intuitive,” said the Port of Seattle’s Commissioner, Sam Cho. “Touchless solutions reduce stress for those travelling today, but are the kind of innovations that will make the airport safer and more efficient for years to come. We appreciate the partnership of passengers and airlines to help to test these programmes for the benefit of our community.”

SEA is one of the first airports in the U.S. to investigate a virtual queuing system as a solution for crowded general screening lines. Known as ‘SEA Spot Saver’, it is a free, reservation-based system for TSA general screening security checkpoints. The pilot programme will test if SEA Spot Saver can successfully reduces wait times and crowding to better maintain physical distancing.

The pilot will operate daily until 31 August 2021 at Checkpoints 2 and 5. The pilot will run from 04:00 to 12:00 to reduce congestion during SEA’s peak morning travel period. During busy travel periods, checkpoints can serve between 40 to 50 per cent of daily passengers in the peak morning period before 11:00. Security screening zones are one of the most tightly constrained and consistently crowded areas of the airport.

SEA Spot Saver is free for all general screening passengers who are travelling without a trusted traveller programme in order to help to provide a better screening experience and create efficiency where the airport has the highest demand.

SEA Spot Saver allows passengers to arrive at the airport and experience contact-free, expedited screening without an extra cost, membership or account. TSA PreCheck passengers should be screened at TSA Checkpoint 4 in order still use their PreCheck benefits, such as not having to remove their shoes and electronics. Additionally, all CLEAR customers can go to their dedicated lane at each security checkpoint to have their expedited experience.

Following pilot completion in summer 2021, SEA will evaluate usage with passengers, customer feedback and increases to line efficiency. If successful, the airport hopes to launch a broader programme as the Port of Seattle continues to use staffing and technology to make the security checkpoint experience as efficient as possible.

Moreover, SEA is evaluating a touchless technology with happyhover™ – where fingers are detected above an electronic screen – on common-use check-in kiosks available to various airline passengers. With this pilot programme, hardware is mounted discreetly onto the top of the kiosk and creates an infrared sheet of light. The technology emulates a touch interface in mid-air so that the touchscreen responds when the light is broken. This removes the need for travellers to touch superfluous surfaces during the check-in process.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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