A Montana airport’s fun checkpoint video

Next time you’re standing in line at an airport security checkpoint, look around to see if there’s a instructional video running to tell passengers how to prepare for the screening process.  If there is a video being shown, chances are it will be a yawner.

But as I discovered for this story on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin, there are ways to share this information that are lot more fun:

Cindi Martin was tired of seeing long lines at the security checkpoint at Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Mont. And even though she’s the airport director, Martin felt her hands were tied. “I cannot tell TSA officers to work faster or change protocol to help streamline the process,” she said.

What she could do was change things outside the checkpoint. So she asked a popular local band that often performs parodies to put together a peppier version of the rather dry Transportation Security Administration video now shown to passengers at the checkpoint.

“We took the TSA video home. And, oh my gosh, it is the most boring sort of government video we’re all used to seeing,” said Steve Riddle, who performs with Nick Terhaar and Greg Devlin as the Singing Sons of Beaches.

The band began working on a song that included all the information in the TSA video. “Things like knives, liquids, scissors, belts and shoes off, etc.,” said Riddle. “We used it all. And we made it rhyme.”

And they made it funny, with a catchy beat.

Dressed in shorts and flowered shirts, band members sing instructions (“No guns or knives or pepper spray, no sharp pointy scissors on the flight today”) and are shown trying to take a shotgun, a six-shooter, a meat cleaver, a giant pair of clippers, a cartoon-style bomb and other forbidden items through the checkpoint. A TSA officer – a real one who was standing by when the airport terminal closed for filming – has a cameo as a finger-wagging screener.

“We are aware of this local video created by the airport and approve of the travel tips provided to prepare passengers for screening,” said TSA spokesperson Greg Soule.

The video now plays on a continuous loop at the airport, along with the original TSA video.

“I’m getting calls from people who are driving out to the airport, paying to park and going in just to watch the video,” said Riddle.

Glacier Park International Airport may have the most danceable checkpoint video, but it’s not the first to offer travelers something a bit different to look at.

In 2004 and 2005, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas worked with local partners to create a 13-part TSA-approved, pre-checkpoint video series that features Las Vegas performers offering checkpoint tips. Included in the series are Wayne Newton, Rita Rudner, Carrot Top, the Blue Man Group, an Elvis impersonator, clowns from Cirque du Soleil, and Wolfgang Puck. You can watch those videos here.

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