Can pictures of flowers and cozy couches tame the traveling beast? Apparently. Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport (DFW) last year tested amenities, including a "recomposure area" at one of its security checkpoints, that were designed to calm passengers by being as welcoming as a nice hotel lobby. The result: Lines moved 25% faster.
"There were little touches to ease anxiety and speed [passengers] through the line to make it more user-friendly," DFW airport spokeswoman Cynthia Vega said.
But the pilot program at DFW's E18 checkpoint, which was duplicated at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT) in North Carolina, has come to an end. The couches, chairs and some other amenities were removed from Dallas, and Charlotte will follow suit shortly. Both airports hope to find another sponsor.
The program was a collaboration between the Transportation Security Administration; SecurityPoint Media, known for creating advertising opportunities on the plastic TSA tubs; and hotel chain SpringHill Suites by Marriott. The Wall Street Journal reported that the hotel chain spent about $500,000 on the checkpoint makeovers.
[Updated 2 p.m. PDT April 17: DFW Airport spokeswoman Cynthia Vega says the airport plans to replace the furniture while seeking a new sponsor for the security checkpoint. It also has retained other amenities such as the mood lighting and digital board informing passengers of wait times.]
The area wasn't just prettier, but it was also quieter. "Wait times are automatically calculated and displayed on monitors and audio messages replace the need for TSA officers to shout instructions, and security messages are available to guide travelers throughout the screening process," James Crites, executive vice president of airport operations, said in an earlier statement about the program.
Other touches included:
—A chair and couch as passengers entered the line to prepare their liquids or take off their shoes;
—Mood lighting that softened the security area;
—Pastel pictures of flowers and other nature subjects;
—Magnetized bins that eased transport through X-ray machines;
—Another couch, chairs and a mirror at the end where passengers could "recompose" before getting on their flight.
"From the colors on the wall by way of the wall wraps, to the comfortableness and look of the furniture, feedback has been favorable, which we feel results in an overall enhanced passenger experience," a Charlotte airport representative said in an email.
The checkpoint also was heavily branded by SpringHill Suites, but that didn't seem to bother passengers.