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TSA willing to pay $15,000 for best ideas to help shorten airport lines

File: The security checkpoint at the Denver International Airport. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(This post has been updated.)

Nothing kills a vacation buzz like the airport security line. The Transportation Security Administration has made some efforts to minimize the pain, but the agency is open to other ideas.

And it’ll pay you for them.

The TSA is offering as much as $15,000 to anyone who can devise a new security line system. It’s asking so-called “solvers” to build on TSA’s existing PreCheck program, which allows fliers to bypass some security rules like removing shoes and no liquids over a certain size that often create line gridlock.

TSA says the new idea should take into account the various categories of travelers who sometimes abide by different screening rules, like the PreCheck fliers, premier passengers, travelers in wheelchairs, and flight crews.

“Solvers are expected to provide the concept and provide evidence that it works as described in the requirements,” according to a description of the “Next Generation Checkpoint Queue Design Model” contest.

Don’t delay. The contest ends Aug. 15. And there are currently 1,638 “active solvers” angling for the prize. The TSA is guaranteeing that at least one award will be granted.

Now it’s not enough money to retire on, but you can surely use it to take a nice vacation … and as a “solver” maybe TSA will even let you skip the line.

UPDATE: TSA responded to our queries about the contest with an e-mailed statement, saying the contest is “about leveraging innovation and out-of-the-box thinking to find solutions to TSA’s most challenging issues – in our instance, for more effective and dynamic queue design.”

“As such, the current challenge is a targeted request for inventive ideas that allows the agency to crowd source by engaging diverse and non-traditional groups of thinkers and solvers,” TSA continued. “This is becoming a widely accepted practice in federal government, as most successfully demonstrated and embraced by NASA, and is in line with the Administration’s Strategy for American Innovation.”


Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.



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