SPOKANE, Wash. — If you're new to air travel, all the rules can be confusing.
And if you're not, all the people who don't know the rules can be a big pain. To help with both problems, the Spokane airport has deployed a fleet of passenger assistants.
The assistants sport lilac jackets, black ties, and a very cheerful attitude.
"It makes it a little easier to get through, we give [travelers] a little bit of information before they get in the line,” said the program’s supervisor Aki Peterson. “If they have to use the restroom we point that out, make sure they have their ID out, their boarding pass, make sure they're in the right terminal so they aren't getting into the wrong area and waiting for a plane that isn't gonna get there."
The program launched at the start of November, and Peterson says the assistants are already getting tons of questions about TSA pre-check, the Real ID law, and most commonly, what is and isn't allowed through security.
"A lot of food-related questions,” said Peterson. One common item of concern: Cougar Gold cheese (it’s allowed, but you have to take the tin out of your bag.)
"Also we're stopping some pocket knives and corkscrews and things from getting up to the TSA checkpoint," he said. "We're getting the passenger ready to get through that checkpoint, answering their questions before it gets clogged up at the actual checkpoint."
The program is targeted at streamlining traveling at the busiest dates and times of the year. The assistants work during peak hours, every day from 3:30 in the morning until 1:30 PM.
"This program was definitely implemented for the holidays to begin with… and has really contributed to making passengers feel comfortable," said Peterson.
Passenger assistants are sometimes found at larger airports, but Peterson says it's rare to find this service in a place like Spokane. But so far, he says passengers are appreciating it.
"We have gotten fabulous response, especially about the lilac coats. They stand out,” he said. People instantly know now they can come to us for information and advice to get through the checkpoints and around the airport a little bit faster."