As part of its $60mn renovation, Syracuse International Airport has installed new exit portals that it says will replace the need for security guards or TSA agents to be stationed at exits to the secure part of the airport. The new system has been branded by some as a “detention pod” because of the ability to lock passengers in.
It should be noted that “security” is the stated purpose for this move rather than merely a way to cut labor costs.
“We need to be vigilant and maintain high security protocol at all times. These portals were designed and approved by TSA which is important,” said Syracuse Airport Commissioner Christina Callahan.
It is not so much the TSA involvement that bothers me (though this is another sign of TSA mission creep). I’m not so much worried about “detention pods” where the “government” can track our movement with facial recognition software (there are cameras installed in each pod). What bothers me is that once you pass into the pod you are trapped for three seconds before the other side opens. This is then in a sense detention and even though it is brief, it still restricts movement in a manner which is not proportionate to the security interest. At least that is my opinion.
When living in Frankfurt, I dealt with an exit portal all the time when passing from the non-Schengen airport zone to passport control. There, though, the delay was only for one second–I did not even have to stop walking.
That would be a suitable compromise, but I see no need to hold people for three seconds and until someone explains why a three-second detention is necessary other than crying “safety” or “9/11”, I will remain firmly against this new exit procedure.