American Airlines and TSA Open “Automated” Security Lanes

We are putting the busy summer travel season behind, one that was filled with long, crazy TSA lines. At one point, wait times at TSA check points at major airports exceeded 100 minutes. You may remember this video of the TSA security line at Chicago Midway airport.

To combat the problem, Delta built its own “innovative lanes” in Atlanta earlier this year. The lanes cost Delta $1 million, and which feature a parallel process. Instead of passengers coming through one at a time, multiple passengers are able to put them items on the belt at the same time through 5 different “divestment points”. This means you won’t have to wait until the person in front of you was done, and you can move at your own speed. At the end of the lanes, bins are automated collected and cycled back to the front of the line, freeing up TSA personnel. You may have seen similar lanes in some European airports, like London Heathrow or Amsterdam Schiphol.

Delta's "Innovative Lines" for Faster Security Screening. which are similar to the automated security lanes American Airlines is deploying. Source: Delta

Delta’s “Innovative Lines” for Faster Security Screening. which are similar to the automated security lanes American Airlines is deploying. Source: Delta

American Airlines today announced that they too, have funded similar security lines, by collaborating with the TSA and the Chicago Department of Aviation. American calls these “Automated Security Lanes,” though they are really only automated in the sense that used, empty bins get pushed back to the front of the line automatically. The screening process is still done by TSA personnel.

Like the lanes you’d see in many European airports and the in ones Delta deployed, if an item requires additional screening, the bins or bags will get diverted to a separate belt. This means one person’s “suspicious” item won’t clog up the line for everyone else.

American also boasts 25% larger bins (it’s like they’re advertising seats!), and RFID tags attached to each bin that help account for items. The new system will also capture photos of the exterior of luggages, which is linked to the X-Ray images of the same bag for TSA agents to review.  American Airlines says that these features should help speed up screening by 30%.

Only two of these lanes are currently available, in Terminal 3 at Chicago O’Hare airport. However, American is rolling out more of these lines in Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York (JFK) in early 2017.

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