I recently flew from TPE and noticed that there, the baskets for the carry-on stuff that gets scanned are numbered:
I can't think of any reason why this would be useful. Can anyone explain?
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There are a few reasons that they would mark baskets.
Identifying Baskets Firstly, as a previous answer stated, numbering baskets ensures that the security staff can correctly identify baskets. If they need to pull a basket off, they can tell their colleagues the number, and their colleague can pull it. The alternative would be to remove it themselves. As security staff can be on either side of the scanner, this is much more efficient. A staff member may notice a suspicious person load a basket from one end, and they can request a staff member to staff on the other end.
Connecting Baskets to Passengers The more important reason for numbering baskets is to provide a way to connect baskets to passengers. Say the security staff finds something concerning in a bag, and they ask "whose bag is this?" - the terrorist/smuggler/criminal is not going to walk up and claim ownership! With the numbering system, cameras can be used to connect particular basket numbers with the person seen putting the items in. Next time you walk through TSA, look directly above each conveyor belt for the scanners - there is typically a camera with a topdown view.
It makes it easier to pull a basket from the line. Its likely that those numbers show up on the X-Ray screen so that if the person watching sees something that needs inspection they can say
pull basket number 18
i think thats the one to pull, it was 4 baskets after the one with the shoes and the laptop.
There are also ones are available now with RFID tags inside for a similar reason.