LOS ANGELES — Travelers nationwide could soon see ads for laptops, expensive cars and other products in the trays that carry their shoes and cell phones through X-ray machines at airport security checkpoints.
After a six-month test in Los Angeles, the federal Transportation Security Administration was expected to formally issue guidelines Thursday to vendors that want to offer the ads at other airports.
Under the plan, ad companies would pay fees to airports and provide the TSA with millions of dollars worth of trays, tables and other non-electronic items used at the security points.
In return, advertisers get to hawk watches, laptops and cell phones in a place where travelers regularly stash such items of their own.
Passenger Lisa Guerrero said she hadn’t noticed the ads as she passed through a security gate at Los Angeles International Airport to catch a flight to Florida. Still, she thought it was a good idea.
“If they help pay for security, then they can bombard me all they want,” Guerrero said.
Michael Boyd, an airline security consultant, said it was a mistake for the TSA to get involved with advertising schemes when it should be concentrating on safety.
“It’s a stupid idea,” Boyd said. “We have bigger things to worry about than putting advertisements in shoe bins.”
Doug Linehan, operations chief for SecurityPoint Media, the St. Petersburg, Fla., company that devised the program, said officials at dozens of airports are eager to try the strategy.
“We are always looking for creative ways to increase our non-airline revenue to keep operating costs down,” said Wendy Abrams, a spokeswoman for the City of Chicago Department of Aviation.
During the test in Los Angeles, airport administrators declined cash payments and instead opted for free ads for airport shuttle buses in 15 percent of the 3,000 bins provided by SecurityPoint Media, Linehan said.
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said the free trays, carts and tables provided under the program have helped security operations in Los Angeles. He credited the nonmetallic carts used to ferry empty trays back through metal detectors with a decrease in back injuries among screeners.
He also said the custom-sized tables that feed trays into X-ray machines were partly responsible for a 90-second decrease in wait times during the Thanksgiving rush, compared with the previous year.
“It allows us to do our jobs more effectively and provide more security, so it’s a win for all parties,” Melendez said.
Some passengers in Los Angeles were unimpressed by the ads hyping datebooks and organizers by Rolodex — thus far the only advertiser in the program.
“To me, that’s the dumbest place to put an advertisement,” said Tricia Dufour, who was on her way to Sweden with her family.
“People are rushed and upset and just trying to get through security. Who’s paying attention?” she said.
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