Lonely Planet Writer

TSA and American Airlines to implement new security screening technology to reduce wait times

As this summer saw airport security lines stretch farther than ever, new automated security screening lanes will be installed at select airports around the US this fall in an effort to cut down the wait.

Transportation Security Officer (TSO), Steve Chao, reviews baggage at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).
Transportation Security Officer (TSO), Steve Chao, reviews baggage at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). Image by TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and American Airlines have announced plans to install the automated lanes at select American Airlines hubs around the country, including Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami.

The federal airport security agency has come under scrutiny this year as long lines delayed passengers around the US. But one American airport is already using automated screening lanes, and the TSA says the process both enhances the security effectiveness and decreases wait times by 30%.

Luggage.
Luggage. Image by Maurizio Pesce / CC BY 2.0

The automated lines will use belts to draw bags into the x-ray machines and return the bins to the back of the queue after they are screened. Any bags with a potential threat are sent to a separate area to allow the system to continue without interruption. There will also be cameras to capture photos of the outside of a bag, which is then linked to the X-ray image of its contents.

TSA and American Airlines also plan to begin a pilot program in Phoenix using computed tomography (CT) scanners. CT technology is currently only used in the US to screen checked baggage. According to a TSA statement, 3D CT technology could allow for passengers to leave items like liquids, gels and laptops in their carry-on, instead of removing them for security, which would also speed up lines. If it’s successful, TSA may decide to use CT technology at other checkpoints around the country.