Just in time for the recent busy holiday travel season, American and United both launched Automated Screening Lanes in order to help lessen the bottleneck in the TSA checkpoints, a serious problem travelers faced in summer 2016.
The two airlines followed the lead of Delta, which partnered with TSA in May 2016 at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Delta underwrote $1 million dollars of the total TSA investment to bring the automation to the Atlanta airport.
The automated screening lanes feature the following innovations:
- Stainless steel countertops that enable several passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously;
- Automated conveyor belts that draw bins into the X-ray machines, and return them to the front of the queue;
- Bags identified as a potential threat are automatically pushed to a separate area to allow bins behind it to continue through the screening process uninterrupted;
- Property bins that are 25 percent larger than the bins in standard screening lanes in order to accommodate roller bags;
- Unique Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags attached to each bin that offer additional accountability of a traveler’s items as they transit throughout the security process; and
- Cameras that capture photographic images of the contents of each bin, which are linked side-by-side to the x-ray image of a bag’s contents.
American launched these automated innovations at just two of its 18 checkpoints in O’Hare International Airport, while United unveiled three lanes there. O’Hare is the world’s fourth busiest airport and was the scene of two- and three-hour delays in the spring of 2016 when TSA was not able to process passengers in an efficient and timely manner.
“In 2016, American Airlines will have spent nearly $30 million on enhancing security and improving checkpoint efficiency at airports across the country, including in Chicago,” American Vice President Franco Tedeschi told Chicago’s CBS affiliate.
United has also said they’re the first and only airline to be launching screening lanes at multiple airports, United Executive Vice President and COO Greg Hart told the Chicago Sun-Times. Both airlines are also bringing these automated systems to their checkpoints in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Newark, and Miami.
Have you used these new automated security checkpoints? What did you think? Share your experiences in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: Nicola (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons)
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