By SUZANNE MARTA / The Dallas Morning News
Going through security at Dallas Love Field may become a little less stressful, whether you're a seasoned traveler or a frazzled family heading to Grandma's for the first time.
Starting May 5, families, including Heather Gerber and son Gavin, won't have to feel rushed at Dallas Love Field checkpoints, thanks to new security lanes.
View larger More photos Photo store The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has revamped its security checkpoints at the Dallas airport to better serve different types of travelers. Under the new "Diamond Self-Select" program, which starts today at Love, travelers choose the screening lane targeted to their own pace and knowledge of security rules.
That means frequent travelers who have few carry-on bags and already know, for example, that they have to remove their shoes can bypass the novices who usually clot the lanes by heading into the black diamond lane.
Travelers who are somewhat familiar with the screening process but have a lot of carry-ons can go to the blue, or intermediate, lane.
That will leave the green lane for families or travelers who aren't as experienced or require extra time or assistance.
Passengers are subject to the same security rules, regardless of what screening lane they go through.
The TSA's approach takes a cue from ski resorts, where symbols such as black diamonds indicate the level of expertise required for each ski run.
The program uses similar symbols but allows airports to incorporate regional icons. In Dallas, the symbols take on a Western theme, with a black bronco-riding rodeo rider for the expert lane, a blue casual rider for the intermediate level and a green chuck wagon for folks needing extra time.
In the family-friendly lane at Love Field, TSA officials plan to put puppets on the metal-detecting wands officers use and have kid-size chairs in the screening area to make younger travelers more comfortable as they take off their shoes or wait as Mom's bag is searched.
The program is voluntary, although TSA personnel will be on hand to advise passengers and direct them to the most appropriate lane.
Andrea McCauley, a TSA spokeswoman, said feedback from airports already using the system suggests it decreases passengers' anxiety and even shaves the time they wait in line.
"We see fewer [security] alarms because families have more time to look for those liquids and gels and gather themselves together before they head to the checkpoint," she said.
Meanwhile, frequent business travelers who have everything ready to go don't have to wait behind folks not familiar with the rules.
The program debuted at airports in Salt Lake City and Denver in February and recently has been expanded to other airports.
Ms. McCauley said it probably will move into some checkpoints at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in the next few months.