The deployment of a new design for TSA security screening lanes takes another step forward this week as the faster processing comes to Los Angeles International Airport.
In a joint effort by United Airlines and TSA, the new “innovation lanes” are due to go into use this week in United’s Terminal 7 at LAX. The new design permits up to five passengers at once to load their personal items into bins on conveyor belts, instead of doing so one at a time.
The lanes also feature “return” belts that bring empty bins back to the start of the process, sparing TSA workers the chore of doing that manually. And bags that are determined to need more detailed inspection after being x-rayed are shunted off the main conveyor so they don’t slow down the line. The new lanes were first introduced earlier this year by Delta and TSA at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International.
The two United lanes in T7 are expected to be joined by at least nine more in other LAX terminals by the end of 2017. In Atlanta, use of the new lanes has reportedly reduced waiting times in security screening lines by 30 percent.
United has said it is also bringing the new lane design to its hubs at Chicago O’Hare and Newark Liberty International. At the latter airport, United plans to combine four existing security checkpoints into one central facility with 17 lanes.
American Airlines is also on board with the new lanes, planning to bring them to its Phoenix Sky Harbor hub by the end of this year, followed by installations at Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth, LAX and Miami.
TSA and the airlines put the “innovation lanes” on a fast track this year after the agency started facing extra-long wait times for security screening at the beginning of the busy summer travel season. The agency also budgeted more for overtime, urged more travelers to join its PreCheck program, and started hiring more screeners to deal with the problem, and officials said last month that it all worked. They said their efforts reduced waiting time to 30 minutes or less for 98 percent of travelers, and to 15 minutes or less for 92 percent. PreCheck members typically wait five minutes or less, TSA said.
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