Taking shoes off at the airport is a pain for travelers, but help could be on the way

Incident that started the shoe policy at airports occurred 20 years ago

Stock image. Mathias P.R. Reding (Pexels)

As millions of people prepare to travel and navigate security checkpoints at airports this week across the United States, one element that can be a nuisance is having to take one’s shoes off while going through a security line.

It made us think: Why is this the case? Are there any best practices for going through a security line without shoes?

Here’s a brief overview.

The incident that started the shoe removal requirement has its 20th anniversary.

Travelers have been required to remove shoes at airports across the United States after an incident on Dec. 22, 2001, when a passenger unsuccessfully tried to detonate explosives on a plane hidden in his shoes.

Richard Reid, known as the “Shoe Bomber,” is a terrorist who boarded an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami with explosives packed in the bottom portion of his shoes.

He was seen trying to light a match on the plane, and then was subdued by several passengers before the explosives could be set off.

Reid was eventually sentenced to three life terms in prison without parole after pleading guilty to eight federal criminal counts of terrorism.

The best practices for going through security without shoes

  • Don’t wear shoes with steel in the tips, heels, shanks, buckles or nails. Tennis shoes are often the best option.
  • Wear socks or disposable slip-on booties for sanitary purposes.
  • Don’t wear shoes that look out of the ordinary.

Shoe removal at airports is a health hazard to some.

Given the floor you are walking on near the security lines is filthy due to all the travelers passing through, many doctors say these can be health hazards, according to WebMD.

It can especially be the case for travelers who wear sandals and then go barefoot through lines.

Athlete’s foot or other infections can occur if proper precautions aren’t taken.

New technology could be on the way to help.

For those who hate the process of taking off their shoes at an airport, they will be comforted to know that help is likely around the corner, according to an article on Yahoo.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a technology that will scan shoes while they are still on, at security lines.

Passengers will pause for about two seconds before an image of the bottom of their shoes will be generated.

The technology could speed up the screening process by 15% to 20%, and will likely be installed in airports within the next year, according to the article.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.