New U.S. airport designs utilize subtle security features

Official: 'best kind of security is the security you can't see'


Since the government now requires all baggage to be checked for explosives, the Transportation Security Administration provided the scanners for Indianapolis. Previously, only luggage on international flights had to be scanned.

Dallas/Fort Worth plans a similar baggage screening system for its five terminals. Bell expects to spend about $140 million on it by the time it's finished in 2010.

Construction started on that airport's new international terminal shortly before the 2001 attacks. Planners adjusted their design to add $47 million in security upgrades.

They fortified walls with more steel and concrete, and they set up a separate road for deliveries. Drivers must pass a security checkpoint to get near the terminal. Shipments are then dropped at a central location and screened before they reach the vendor.

"This is really the trend of the future," Bell said. "Everybody would be basically prearranging this so there wouldn't be any strange beer truck that comes out of nowhere."

Airports also hope to boost security by making passengers happier about the checkpoint process.

Indianapolis will use natural light to help improve the mood around its two checkpoints, and it plans to install monitors that tell passengers how long it takes to pass through checkpoints.

The Dallas/Fort Worth airport, meanwhile, plans to use video displays and recorded messages to direct passengers in a less irritating manner.

"In the past, the town crier TSA guy would, every five minutes, look up and start yelling at everybody to take out your liquids," Bell said.

Bell also wants to set up parallel tables before the checkpoints so more people can remove their shoes and wallets for scanning. That will tame checkpoint waits and keep passengers calm, which makes it easier to spot potential problems.

"If everybody's irritated and cussing," Bell said, "it's hard to tell who might be a person of interest."