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High Tech Baggage System Up And Running At MIA

MIAMI (CBS4) - Miami International Airport hit a historic milestone Monday.

Workers began dismantling what's known as the "shed", a slow baggage process that routinely lost baggage, missed flights, and had security shortfalls.

Taking its place is a much more high tech baggage system.


A 14 mile long conveyor belt will take your bag from check-in, through TSA security, and onto your plane automatically. Not only does it make your bags more secure it moves them quicker.

Tom O'Malley, a frequent American Airlines passenger, welcomed the news.

"Being able to check a bag and knowing it's going to get to the destination, on time with you and delivered quickly is tremendous. Looking forward to this."  O'Mallley said.

Miami International has been looking forward to it too.

Juan Carlos Arteaga, the man in charge of the north terminal construction, showed us the system Monday in an exclusive behind the scenes tour.  For a system that does something so simple, move bags, it is a very complex operation.

"They told me it's easier to put a man on the moon than to develop this baggage handling system.  It's very very complicated," Arteaga said.

The system was so complicated they actually designed, built, and opened the entire south terminal in half the time it took to get this thing running.

"If something doesn't work you cannot make it work.  So what we did is we improved the system to the point it could be salvaged," Arteaga explained.

Moving forty thousand bags a day on the largest baggage system in the United States almost didn't happen.  American Airlines actually wanted to scrap the system in 2005. The county took over and Arteaga gave it one more shot.  After 105 days of testing they finally handed they system back over to American fully operational.

"It did really, really well,"  Arteaga said.

With bags finally moving, the airport can now move the old baggage system out and finish a decade of construction.

"It will be done by March 2013." Arteaga said.

Tearing down the old baggage system will mean more than just baggage, it will mean more flights.  For American they can currently do about 300 flights a day.  With the baggage shed out of the way though they will be able to add three more gates.

Project engineers believe American will be able to move up to 500 flights a day with the new layout and system.


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