American Airlines Hopes To Speed Up Security Checkpoint

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security seal is seen as a TSA official moves a bin for additional screening at a newly designed passenger screening lane unveiled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The new screening lanes allow multiple passengers to load their belongings onto an automated conveyer belt at the same time. The lanes, the first of its kind in the nation, are aimed at speeding up the security process and are modeled on similar systems at London's Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schiphol airports.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security seal is seen as a TSA official moves a bin for additional screening at a newly designed passenger screening lane unveiled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The new screening lanes allow multiple passengers to load their belongings onto an automated conveyer belt at the same time. Similar lanes will be installed in Chicago in the fall. David Goldman / AP Photo
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security seal is seen as a TSA official moves a bin for additional screening at a newly designed passenger screening lane unveiled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The new screening lanes allow multiple passengers to load their belongings onto an automated conveyer belt at the same time. The lanes, the first of its kind in the nation, are aimed at speeding up the security process and are modeled on similar systems at London's Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schiphol airports.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security seal is seen as a TSA official moves a bin for additional screening at a newly designed passenger screening lane unveiled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The new screening lanes allow multiple passengers to load their belongings onto an automated conveyer belt at the same time. Similar lanes will be installed in Chicago in the fall. David Goldman / AP Photo

American Airlines Hopes To Speed Up Security Checkpoint

Federal officials said Tuesday that they are expanding tests to speed up airport lines and improve security. 

The Transportation Security Administration said it will work with American Airlines to make changes to increase automation and speed up screening this fall in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami.

American will spend $5 million on the changes, said the airline's chief operating officer, Robert Isom, in a letter to employees. He said neither the increased automation nor computed-tomography (CT) scanners will solve TSA's problems, "but they are both huge steps in the right direction."

The changes at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International and Miami mirror a pilot program that TSA is running with Delta Air Lines in two lanes at the Atlanta airport. There, suspicious bags can be sent to a separate area for more screening while other bags on the conveyer belt keep moving. Bins are automatically sent back to the head of the line, and they are given radio-frequency-identification tags for better tracking.

The agency said the scanners and other steps will cut the time travelers spend in line by about 30 percent.

TSA also announced that it plans to begin using CT scanners to inspect carry-on bags at one checkpoint in the Phoenix airport by the end of the year.

CT scanners are already used to screen checked baggage. The process is mostly automated — the scanners generate 3-D images that are analyzed by computers. Security workers only check a bag if something is suspicious.

The use of CT technology at airport checkpoints would eliminate the need for screeners to examine X-ray images of every bag. It could also let travelers leave liquids and laptops in their carry-on bags.

As long checkpoint lines become a nuisance for travelers, security experts warn that the long lines create targets for terrorists that are outside security checkpoints.

Congress approved the hiring of nearly 800 new screeners and overtime pay for current ones, and TSA has reassigned some officers to the busiest airlines.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said TSA screened 10.7 million travelers over six days culminating with the July 4 holiday, and Thursday and Friday were the TSA's busiest days since 2007. Average wait time was less than 10 minutes and expedited PreCheck lines were under five minutes, he said.