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New Automated Security Lanes At MSP Could Cut Wait Times

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Flying out of Minneapolis could be getting a little easier. A new security line could cut down on wait times up to 40 percent.

A Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) committee approved funding to install four new automated security lanes at MSP. The lanes use conveyor belts and individual loading stations so travelers don't have to wait as long to go through the checkpoint.

The technology would be new to the Twin Cities, but not new to the Midwest. While it started in Atlanta last Spring, the automated security lanes have been installed in Chicago and with their success, MAC is hoping the fast lanes will be here by summer.

Airport officials say the automated checkpoints could be a game changer for cutting down wait time at security.

"This provides essentially five stations where people can go up and divest themselves, put their belongings on bins that get run in, so whoever is quickest goes out first," Gary Warren, VP of planning development and environment for MAC, said.

Here's how it works: Passengers go to an open station, where they use a bin that's 25 percent larger than in current screening lanes. They place their contents inside, and the rest is automatic.

"Anywhere from 10 percent to 40 percent of the timing," Warren said.

"Anything they can do to speed it up, but keep the security ,the safety of it, is wonderful," traveler Sue Stein said.

There is an X-ray upgrade as well. Cameras take photos of the outside of bags, matching them to the X-ray images of the inside. Any questionable items are automatically diverted to be inspected.

The plan is to start with four of the new lanes in the south security checkpoint at Terminal 1.

"We're being very vigilant to the Super Bowl demands that will be here next February," Warren said.

At $400,000 a lane, MAC officials hope the upgrades put passengers in the fast lane.

"There are so many people flying and so many bodies to get through and missed flights and things like this that anything that can speed it up would be wonderful," Stein said.

The conveyor belts also return the bins to the front of the line after each passenger passes through security.

The full commission still has to vote on the new lanes at its meeting on Feb. 21. If they're approved they'd likely be in place by Memorial Day.


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