The National Academies

ACRP 07-24 [Pending]

Airport Security Checkpoint Demand Management Using Virtual Queuing

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Contract Time: 15 months
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete


As airports and their tenants explore ways to improve customer service, virtual queuing has emerged as a way to address a frequently frustrating situation—spending time in queues. Virtual queuing allows customers to pre-arrange a time window to undertake a transaction or process, thereby allowing them to engage in other activities instead of standing in a queue. Virtual queuing may also provide a means for managing demand, thereby optimizing the capacity of limited resources.  While concessionaires and other service providers are introducing virtual queuing at airports, there may be benefits to employing virtual queuing to manage demand at the security screening checkpoint. Virtual queuing could be offered as a complimentary service or rationed using pricing. In either instance, it could significantly increase customer satisfaction.

Research is needed to produce virtual queuing guidelines for airports to manage demand at security screening checkpoints, including quantifying potential benefits and identifying implementation steps. While the primary focus is on security checkpoints, other areas of the airport could also benefit from this research.


The objective of this research is to develop a primer, guide, and tools (e.g., decision tree, flow chart, scorecard) to help airport practitioners evaluate and implement, if appropriate, virtual queuing solutions for managing demand at the security screening checkpoint.

The primer should describe current state of practice, including relevant non-airport examples, types of solutions, benefits, and lessons learned.

The guide and tools should allow commercial service airports of all sizes to select virtual queuing solutions for their unique situation and address, at a minimum:

  • Layout of pre-screening and screening areas, including physical constraints and opportunities;
  • Diurnal passenger demand profiles and passenger personas;
  • Interplay of demand and processing rates of downstream and upstream touchpoints;
  • Performance metrics (e.g., time-in-queue, staffing);
  • Technological requirements (e.g., passenger interface);
  • Atypical operating conditions (e.g., loss of power, special events);
  • Impact on customer experience (quantitative and qualitative);
  • ADA-compliance;
  • Potential equity impacts (e.g., disproportionate benefits to higher income users);
  • Stakeholder identification, coordination, and collaboration;
  • Benefit/cost analysis:
    • Potential concession revenue impact (loss or gain),
    • Implementation costs,
    • Operational costs, and
    • Potential direct virtual queue revenue;
  • Funding sources; and
  • Accountability/liability implications.

The guide should provide relevant case study examples of various virtual queuing solutions.


The research plan shall include the following interim deliverables for ACRP review and approval at a minimum:

  • Draft primer;
  • Technical memo describing recommended solutions that will be included in the guide and rationale for selection; and
  • Interim report to include research results and analysis to date, description of tools, list of representative case studies with rationale, outline of the guide, next steps, and identification of follow-on research ideas to be developed into ACRP problem statements.

The research plan shall include the following checkpoints with the ACRP panel at a minimum:

  • Kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed;
  • Web meeting to review and approve the primer and recommended list solutions; and
  • In-person interim meeting.

The final deliverables shall include:

  • Primer, guide, and tools;
  • Contractor’s Final Report documenting all research steps, results, and analysis;
  • Summary of Key Findings;
  • Further Recommended Research Memo; and
  • Technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.


STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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