Shoe Detectors Gone at Atlanta Airport

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via NewsEdge Corporation : Sep. 2--The airport "shoe detectors" are gone -- for now.

The do-it-yourself metal-screening boxes helped travelers in Atlanta and other airports decide whether to shed their footwear before walking through security checkpoints. The idea was to prevent time-consuming extra screening required when passengers set off alarms in the walk-through metal detectors.

But this week the Transportation Security Administration told Hartsfield-Jackson International and other airports that the shoe detectors were being removed because they were "not certified." And by Wednesday morning, they had disappeared.

Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager Ben DeCosta said he wasn't consulted.

"I don't see that there's any problem with having this convenience," he said. "It's a help to the passengers and a help to the TSA. The fact that they were not certified ... I don't know what that means."

TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said the boxes were removed because of unspecified safety concerns. She added that many of the devices were less sensitive than the walk-though screening machines and therefore of limited usefulness.

Clark said the TSA was working on a flat mat that passengers could use to self-test their shoes for metal. The mats will be tested in a couple of airports, possibly Baltimore-Washington International and Cincinnati, she said.

Screeners came up with the idea and improvised the shoe detectors, which sit on the floor in front of checkpoint lanes. Shoes became a focus of airport security in late 2001 after a passenger on an American Airlines jet tried to detonate explosives smuggled onto the aircraft inside his shoes.