By Hugo Martin
10:00 AM CST, December 30, 2012
As crowded as airports were over the holiday season, a new forecast predicts even more travelers will be hopping on planes in coming years.
The International Air Transport Assn. trade group predicts that by 2016 airports around the world will serve 3.6 billion fliers a year. That represents 5% growth each year, adding about 800 million new fliers in four years.
But don’t worry. IATA’s leaders recently released a vision for the airport of the future that will move all these extra passengers fast and efficiently. The catch is that more passengers will be asked to give authorities detailed background information to get pre-screened, enabling them to get through security checkpoints faster.
The Transportation Security Administration already operates such a program — known as PreCheck — but only a fraction of the 1.8 million passengers who fly across the country each day use it.
“We encourage other governments to introduce a known traveler program into the arena,” said Perry Flint, an IATA spokesman. “We simply need to get more efficient.”
Passengers will also benefit from advances in screening machines that will be able to evaluate liquids, aerosols and gels without having passengers remove them from carry-on bags, IATA predicts.
The goal will be to keep security lines from delaying passengers more than 10 minutes, Flint said.
By 2017, IATA predicts travelers won’t have to remove shoes, belts and watches. That’s huge because an IATA survey found that removing shoes is the second biggest gripe among travelers, followed by long screening lines.
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