Airport security lines may get longer ahead of the summer season as TSA tests tighter security

Key Points
  • A test program being run at 10 airports could mean longer security lines.
  • The TSA could expand those changes to other airports, and is still weighing a laptop ban on some airports.
  • The changes come as summer air traffic is expected to rise by 4 percent.
Checkpoint changes

Recently, a travel survey found that nearly 68 percent of flyers were satisfied with airport security, up from to around 65 percent satisfaction last year. However, a new policy change being weighed could make airport checkpoint security a bit longer – and may result in unhappier passengers.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing new screening procedures, taking a closer look at carry-on contents at 10 airports. The changes will require passengers to remove more items from their often densely-packed carry-on while proceeding through airport security, something an expert said is a useful practice.

"I have no problem with separating things so they can see it better," aviation consultant and president of Boyd Group International Mike Boyd told CNBC's "On the Money" recently.

The airports where the test is being run include Los Ángeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Boston, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico. At these travel hubs, in addition to laptop computers, all electronics larger than a cell phone—including e-readers and tablets—will be placed in a separate bin for additional screening.

"Overall this is a positive move," Boyd said, but added that "where I'm really concerned is why would you announce the airports where you're increasing security? Why not send a memo to Al Qaeda while you're at it?"

Boyd told CNBC that public disclosure wasn't necessary, and could even be counterproductive.

"Just say 'we're going to have higher security in some places [so] you may have to separate some of your things and keep your electronics separate'," he said. "That's a very simple thing to do, but to say we're going to do it at Los Angeles...for the terrorist, that's a good place to avoid. "

The adjustment to security screening procedure comes at a time when there's already a ban on laptop use in airplane cabins from some airports in the Middle East. Last week, Homeland Security said it is considering expanding that ban to 71 airports. Could that happen on domestic flights?

"I would hope not," said Boyd, "because that will could change the makeup of air transportation as a communication channel. I need my laptop to go with me." He warned that a laptop ban may have harmful consequences to air carriers' bottom line.

"If you take that away, you're going to see domestic air travel drop. No question about it," he said.

With summer travel season kicking off, Airlines for America recently projected traffic will increase by 4 percent, a figure Boyd said was modest but could still have an impact on travel.

"The difference in summertime is the mix of travelers, more kids and more strollers," he said, which may slow down the ability of passengers to get through security lines quicker.

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturday at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.