A controversial boarding process practiced outside the United States has arrived in Houston.
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Continental Airlines is testing self-boarding at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in the first experiment within U.S. borders by any carrier, USA Today reported Tuesday.
The self-boarding process allows a passenger to swipe his or her boarding pass at a kiosk, which will open a turnstile or door, giving the traveler access to the jet bridge, according to the report.
Continental didn't provide the paper with further details on its experiment. A Transportation Security Administration spokesperson said the agency "determined it does not impact the security of the traveling public." All travelers will be screened at security checkpoints before arriving at boarding gates, he said.
Isaac Yeffet, former director of security for El Al Airlines, thinks self-boarding is a bad idea. "It's not a secret that the United States of America is the biggest target for terrorist organizations, especially al-Qaida," Yeffet told msnbc.
"Instead of moving forward in security ... we prefer to go backward" because we don't want to inconvenience passengers, Yeffet said, adding that airline security is "an illusion."
Not everyone agrees.
"It's a great idea," aviation analyst Michael Boyd told USA Today. "Any reduction in human contact between employee and customer is good these days."
"As long as you have someone to tell grandma where to stick the paper," he added, "you're fine."
Continental's self-boarding trial run follows recent technological developments aimed at making travelers' lives easier.
Passengers with smart phones, for example, can check in using mobile boarding passes. United, Continental, Delta, American and Alaska all use mobile boarding passes, where the carrier scans the confirmation link or message on a device capable of e-mail.
Additionally, the Clear program, which allowed members to breeze through security before it abruptly shut down last year, is expected to be up and running again by fall. The company was taken over by Alclear LLC, whose board includes Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Alclear bought Clear's former owner, Verified Identity Pass, which filed for bankruptcy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
© 2013 msnbc.com