American Airlines and TSA Open “Automated” Security Lanes

by Enoch

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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ugh November 14, 2016 - 9:22 am

New things always going to legacy AA airports and not legacy US…

Nen September 4, 2017 - 7:27 pm

Ok but the thing that is never mentioned that I encountered today is now it’s almost impossible for you to watch your belongings all the way through security. ie. Today ORD. T3 Checkpoint 7. My Backpack with shoes and liquids in bin1. My laptop bin 2.. Carry-on bin 3.. Have no control over how fast / slow it goes through and run into a line merging from the other line for the body scanner. Get flagged at the body scanner trying to keep my eyes on all my bins for 5 minutes as I’m getting massaged but it’s almost impossible. I go back. laptop there. backpack there. carry-on (with wallet and cash and credit cards zipped in it. since you can’t have these in your pockets) gone.. later to find out it’s on a flight to Houston as someone grabbed the wrong one while I was getting my massage.

So while this may be faster. you are separating the passenger from their personal items for potentially a much longer time, and since no one takes responsibility for your stuff. we are liable even though we are getting a rub down 20 feet away without a choice.

Advice.. if one gets flagged in the body scanner.. their bins need to be pulled aside and stored safely so any random person can’t just run off with them!


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