Airport Security Gets Cold Feet

New airport scanners don't work as promised, leaving passengers shoeless again

1:35 PM -- The new machines that promised to save our socks made their debut at Orlando International Airport yesterday.

They didn't work.

Even after paying $100 and undergoing a federal background check, even after standing in a kiosk that reads their biometric information and uses radio waves to test for explosives and metal, some passengers still had to drop their shoes for airport security authorities yesterday.

The Orlando passengers were the first to test a new scanner from Verified Identity Pass that is designed to detect metal in shoes without forcing the passenger to take them off. But airport security authority TSA said the scanner isn't certified to distinguish between safe and unsafe metals, so many customers had to go barefootin' anyway.

The glitch proves that when it comes to TSA, passengers just can't win. All of the testers were members of the Clear program, Verified Identity Pass' program that allows frequent flyers to pay $100 and undergo background checks and biometric scans in exchange for getting through airport security quickly. But most of them are still getting hung up in the security line.

A spokesman for VIP, which has about 30,000 customers, says he hopes travelers will simply learn not to wear shoes with metal in them. Looks like we all should buy a few shares of Hanes stock, because we're looking at least another year of the sock dance.

I'm still a bit baffled as to how VIP could develop a scanner without checking to see whether TSA would certify its results. It seems a bit like going into mass production on a drug that hasn't been approved by the FDA.

But it's even more frustrating to see another roadblock put up by TSA, the organization that first took our nail files, and then our bottles of Yoo-hoo. I'm just praying that a terrorist doesn't find a way to hide explosives in men's white underwear.

Since the debut of Dark Reading, I've had a chance to interview some of the nation's foremost authorities on security, and there's one thing they all agree on: Airport security systems are both deeply flawed and overblown. Nobody wants to see another terrorist strike on an airplane, but c'mon, TSA, isn't there a limit?

Maybe we should all invest in a good pair of flip-flops.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading