Delta Air Lines may have started a new trend by acquiring automated security checkpoints to install at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International airport and be operated by the US Transportation Security Administration.

The UK-sourced checkpoints are scheduled to be opened on 24 May in Atlanta, with the potential to increase throughput by 40% through each lane, says TSA administrator Peter Neffenger.

“Those two lanes are going in. Now we have other airlines coming in, saying, ‘We want to buy 20, we want to buy 21’,” says Neffenger, addressing the Washington DC chapter of the Royal Aeronautical Society on 12 May.

Faced with steadily increasing passenger traffic through already the world’s busiest airport, Delta decided to acquire the security lanes rather than wait for TSA to attempt to secure funding from Congress and schedule a competitive selection process, he says.

The TSA recommended the UK system already installed London’s Heathrow airport. The automated lane opens with five stations, allowing five passengers to “divest” metallic clothing and equipment before ushering themselves and carry-on bags through a security scanner. Each of the carry-on luggage bins is stamped with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, so the airline’s customers don’t have to wait to push the bag through the scanner themselves. On the other side of the scanner, there are numerous stations where the passenger to wait to pick up the bags, avoiding bottlenecks at either end of the scanner.

The combination of the automated conveyor belt, RFID tags and multiple stations should improve throughput through the lane by 40%, Neffenger says.

The TSA system also evaluated a similar system used at Schipol airport in Amsterdam, Neffenger says, but that one comes with softer features, such as a system that sprays a lavender scent over the security lanes, with green grass planted atop the security scanners and special colouring intended to soothe passengers’ moods.

“They make it look really like Disneyland when you walk through because they said, ‘Well, it just looks too industrial-looking in the UK’. We’re sort of with the UK on that one,” says Neffenger, formerly a vice-admiral in the US Coast Guard.

More advances in US screening technology are also on the way. The reconstruction of the Denver International airport offered another chance to re-imagine security lanes beyond automating the conveyor belt.

In Denver, Neffenger says, airport officials are evaluating a curb-side system that assigns RFID tags to checked and carry-on luggage. The tags are linked to the passengers’ identities, opening the possibility of eliminating the ID check at the TSA lane.

“If we can work the technology right, it will be your ID,” Neffenger says. “So once you have that on you can just walk through the lane.”

Source: Cirium Dashboard