Those new, speedier, more automated TSA airport security screening lines are proliferating quickly: This week new lanes opened at Chicago O’Hare for both United and American Airlines customers — including the first one exclusively for PreCheck members. And more lanes are coming to airports Dallas Ft Worth and Atlanta as well.
United said it has opened a “fully redesigned” TSA PreCheck security checkpoint for its Terminal 1 base at Chicago O’Hare, with one of the new automated checkpoints for PreCheck travelers and two others for regular screening. At the same time, American Airlines said it now has two of the faster screening lanes in operation at its Terminal 3 at O’Hare.
Similar to the new lanes that opened earlier this year at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and more recently at Los Angeles International, the new facilities allow up to five passengers at a time to load their carry-on belongings into plastic bins, and automatically draw bags into the x-ray device instead of requiring passengers to push them. They also have an automatic return conveyor belt to bring empty bins back to the beginning of the line, and a secondary screening belt for bags that need an extra inspection, so that they won’t hold up the line. The bins are also 25 percent larger than before.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the new lanes are helping O’Hare to eliminate security bottlenecks that hampered its operations. “Earlier this year, wait times at (O’Hare’s) TSA checkpoints escalated to an unacceptable 104 minutes,” he said. “Working together with our federal and airline partners, we resolved this crisis and today have average wait times that are among the shortest of major airports in the country.”
Last month, United opened a pair of the faster screening lanes in its Terminal 7 at Los Angeles International Airport. And earlier in the year the concept was first introduced by Delta and TSA at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson. Speaking of ATL, another new automated TSA lane is now being constructed at the South security checkpoint, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – although this project will not require the checkpoint to be shut down as it was last spring when the first two lanes were installed there.
Meanwhile, the board that governs Dallas/Ft. Worth International this week is expected to approve a $3.5 million expenditure to install 10 of the faster screening lanes around the airport, in Terminals A, D and E. The plan calls for two machines each at checkpoints near Gates A21, D18, D22, D30 and E18, according to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The work is expected to be finished by next spring.
United is also working on an overhaul of security screening at its Newark hub, where it is consolidating four checkpoints into one centralized facility. American said it expects to add the new lanes early next year at Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK as well.
Readers: Have you had a chance to try these new automated screening lanes yet? What did you think?
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