New airport screening technology that was trotted out Tuesday was supposed to let passengers keep their footwear on while passing through security.
But several travelers complained they had to kick loafers or heels off anyway, even after standing in a kiosk that reads their biometric information and uses radio waves to test for explosives and metal. The scanners are part of a new program at Orlando International Airport that promises shorter screening lines for those who pass a federal background check and pay a $100 annual fee.
But all shoes with metal must still be removed for additional screening because the agency has not approved the devices’ ability to distinguish between safe and unsafe metals, said Shawn Dagg, Verified Identity Pass senior vice president.
“That was a bit disappointing. I thought all the hype was that this was going to let you keep your shoes on,” said Clay Breazeale, a salesman who flies about twice a week. “The machine simply detected this little piece of metal, so I had to take my shoes off.”
The Clear program is operated by Verified Identity Pass Inc., a New York City company headed by Court TV founder Steven Brill. It debuted in Orlando in June 2005 and has since drawn 30,000 customers. Participants have long been able to bypass regular security lines, but Tuesday was the initial rollout of the shoe scanners.
Dagg said he hopes customers will learn to wear shoes without metal.
Also Tuesday, Clear expanded to a British Airways terminal at New York’s Kennedy Airport. The company plans to launch another outpost this week at the Indianapolis airport, and two more next week at the San Jose, Calif., and Cincinnati airports. Verified hopes to expand the Orlando program to 20 airports by the end of the year.
TSA must vet all Clear passengers before they can enroll in the program.
As with the program in general, the shoe scanners will not be broadly used until they receive further TSA approval.