2020 was the year of the COVID-19 road trip. With high infection rates and no vaccines, many of us resolved to limit our travel. And when we did need to get from one place to another, we put gas in the car and hit the highway.
Now that vaccines are widely available in the United States, many people are willing to revisit the possibility of air travel. And those who pass through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the first time in a while will notice some technological improvements.
This summer, SeaTac decided to try out a virtual queueing system to see if it could save passengers time and hassle during their travels. This technology was in the works before 2020, but airport officials say that the onset of the pandemic sped up the rollout of the pilot program. SeaTac was one of the first airports to implement this kind of technology in their airport for passengers to use.
From May through August, SeaTac tried out two virtual programs at two TSA general screening security checkpoints. One used a text-based QR code and the other used an online reservation system. Both programs allowed for people to hold their place in security lines without actually having to be there.
The benefits? This allows travelers to spend extra time with their families, use the restroom, get a cup of coffee, or simply social distance from the crowds more effectively without losing their place in line. According to airport officials, the programs were a success — in one week in August alone, 15,800 travelers used the program. Of those users, 90% said that it saved them time.
In response, SeaTac has decided to extend its virtual queueing program. Now, you can make use of the virtual queue at checkpoints 2, 3, and 5 — which are all of the general security checkpoints at the airport. You can book your appointment up to 72 hours in advance, and don’t even have to be in the airport to be holding a spot in the security line. The most difficult part of flying just got so much easier!
If you plan on taking to the skies soon, don’t forget that the emergence of the Delta Variant has made it important to retain safety precautions. Check with your airline about their COVID-19 safety rules before you go to the airport, and make sure to cancel your flight if you are feeling sick or unwell.
Airlines aren’t the only industry that has had to adapt to the pandemic. Check out other noteworthy trends on our blog!