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Air travelers may get to keep shoes on

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  September 6, 2011 05:07 PM

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For some time now, a major sore spot for air travelers involves them having to shed their shoes at TSA security checkpoints.

According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that practice may be on the way out. Policies on liquids will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future, however.

"We are moving towards an intelligence and risk-based approach to how we screen," Napolitano said at a Politico event in Washington this morning. "I think one of the first things you will see over time is the ability to keep your shoes on. One of the last things you will [see] is the reduction or limitation on liquids."

Napolitano did not hint at when such a change may occur.

TSA officials have been testing shoe-scanning technologies since 2007. The agency began inspecting shoesafter Richard Reid unsuccessfully attempted to detonate explosives in his boots on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001.

Heeding the mounting complaints of airline passengers, the TSA tested a shoe scanner from General Electric at Orlando International Airport in 2007, but pulled the device after a half dozen months because its performance proved unsatisfactory during trials. In 2008, TSA tested two scanning units made by L3 Communications at Los Angeles International Airport.

About a dozen companies have designed shoe scanning devices and last year TSA said that it planned to buy 100 of the devices by this year, presumably for more tests.

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