Memphis International Airport introduces family-friendly checkpoint lane

November 25, 2008

By Wayne Risher

Transportation Security Administration officials on Monday unveiled Memphis International Airport's version of the new nationwide green lane -- a slower line for people who need extra time or assistance to clear security.

Air safety officials touted family-friendly lanes at security checkpoints as vital to the smooth flow of people through the nation's airports during the coming peak season.

TSA officials also offered tips for safe travel with a modicum of hassles during the busiest times for air travel -- the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Memphis International has a single green lane, marked by a small sign with a green circle. The lane opened Nov. 20 on the left side of Concourse B security checkpoint, the airport's largest and busiest passenger portal.

Regional director Kevin McCarthy said TSA encourages travelers with small children, medical conditions or other needs to use the green lane, freeing up the right lane for savvy fliers.

"Some people haven't been out to the airport in several years. That's why we have the family lanes, so people who need extra time can have it," McCarthy said. "There's no one behind them waiting. They don't feel like they're holding anyone up."

TSA spokesman Jon Allen said Concourse B is the only Memphis checkpoint with a green lane under TSA's Diamond Self-select program.

Larger airports feature three types of lanes: green or family, casual traveler and expert traveler.
TSA has the capability to create family lanes at Memphis' single-lane A and C checkpoints if necessary.

McCarthy said occasional travelers will notice TSA has taken over from airline personnel the job of inspecting passengers' photo IDs.

Lead officer Patricia Talley demonstrated the use of a loupe -- like a jeweler's magnifying glass -- and a small ultraviolet flashlight.

The tools help officers spot distinguishing marks on driver's licenses and other official ID cards.
Knoxville resident Kelly Kesterson said family lanes seemed like a good idea, but she and her 4-year-old daughter, Sydney, didn't particularly need them. They're old hands at air travel.

As she pushed a stroller bearing Sydney and her doll through Terminal B, Kesterson said that flying from her mother's home in Springfield, Mo., back to Knoxville had been a piece of cake.

"We're not having a problem at all," she said. "We fly about once a month, so (Sydney) knows the drill. She's taking her shoes off before we get up to the checkpoint."

-- Wayne Risher: 529-2874

Air Travel Tips
Arrive in plenty of time, following airline recommendation
Have boarding pass and valid government photo ID ready at checkpoint entrance
Remove shoes, coats, jackets, bulky outer garments for X-raying
Pack liquids, gels and aerosols in bottles larger than 3 ounces in checked luggage; see list of prohibited items at www.tsa.gov
Leave gifts unwrapped for easier inspection