I don’t know about you, but I curse Richard Reid, the goofy-looking “shoe bomber,” every time I have to go through airport security—especially this time of year, when my slip-on, slip-off shoes are deep in storage. Amid talk of high-tech body scanners and some eight years after Reid's failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound American Airlines flight by igniting explosives hidden in his footwear, shoe security still proves elusive.
Which brings me to an email I got today from the Transportation Security Administration (if you’re a frequent traveler and don’t subscribe to the agency’s email news list, you should). Its subject line: What Ever Happened To The Shoe Scanner Idea? What ever happened indeed.
According to the TSA, the idea is, in its own words, “still cooking.” While it doesn’t appear the agency has settled on any definitive technology to deploy, the glimmer of good news is that shoe scanners are part of the TSA’s 2011 budget with tentative plans to buy 100 machines to install sometime next year.
Given that shoe scanners already exist at some international airports, as well as cruise terminals—not to mention that government surveys have long shown that shoe removal is one of the most annoying parts of air travel—I still have to ask: what’s taking us so long?
Adrien Glover is the online deputy editor at Travel + Leisure.