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U.S. airlines are starting to provide supplemental support at checkpoints around the country this spring thanks to a flagging TSA.
Earlier this month, that effort came in the form of airlines hiring supplemental staff to direct traffic at checkpoints and enhance the customer experience, though no actual screeners were hired. Now, Delta Air Lines has gone so far as to design and install its own checkpoints into Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and gift them to the TSA.
Dubbed “innovation lanes” by the marketing wonks at Delta, the new checkpoints, which look very similar to systems used in many airports across Europe, allow up to five passengers at a time to step up to the conveyor belt for baggage loading an unloading, simplifying and speeding the lane throughput. The system also uses a parallel process to feed empty screening bins back to travelers underneath the conveyor belt, preventing the need to constantly replenish the bin stock.
Between faster bin cycling and better passenger throughput, the new systems should “double the productivity of every lane,” suggests Gil West, Senior Executive V.P. and Chief Operating Officer. The end result, at least in these lanes, should be shorter and faster security lines, two problems plaguing the rest of the U.S. airport security network managed by the TSA.
Unfortunately, the benefit of the innovations lanes may not go much past the installation at Hartsfield Jackson. So far, the current technology is installed in only two of the 28 checkpoints at that airport and there are no concrete plans to expand the service within or outside of that airport.
What the checkpoints do provide, which is perhaps the whole point of the exercise, is faster screening for some Delta passengers and proof that the Atlanta-based carrier is innovating in the security space. Like American and United’s efforts at adding more staff to their hub’s security checkpoints though, there may be as much marketing as there is innovation in place here. The onus now is on the TSA to take Delta’s concept and run with it.