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September 24, 2017

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McCarran’s new automated screening lanes to be tested on busy weekend

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Mikayla Whitmore

Travelers use new automated screening lanes at the security checkpoint in Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Aug. 31, 2017.

Automated screening lanes

Travelers use new automated screening lanes at the security checkpoint in Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nev. on August 31, 2017. Launch slideshow »

Ahead of the busy Labor Day weekend, McCarran International Airport has introduced automated screening lanes in Terminal 3.

Three state-of-the-art scanners were installed in the terminal, which houses all international carriers. The goal of placing the new scanners is to increase security while speeding up the screening process for travelers, transportation officials said.

“This is the next generation,” Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said. “We’re innovating and automating the passenger-screening process.”

The units, which were installed on July 31, are in a 90-day trial. There is no cost to the airport for the units during that time.

TSA employees still assist passengers through the screening area. Passengers are scanned and supervised as their luggage goes through the system. TSA employees received an 8-hour training course as well as on-the-job training for the new screeners.

The new security screening units include:

• Stainless-steel countertops designed specifically to allow several passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously.

• Automated conveyor belts that transport bins into the X-ray machine tunnel and return the bins to the front of the security checkpoint. That eliminates the labor of stacking and moving the bins from the end of the line to the front of the line.

• Automatic diversion of any carry-on bags that may contain a prohibited item. The diversion sends the item to a separate conveyer belt. That allows other bins containing other travelers’ belongings to continue through the screening process uninterrupted.

• Bins are 25 percent larger than bins in place at other screening areas in the airport and can accommodate roll-aboard bags.

• Unique Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that are attached to each bin. The tags provide additional accountability of a traveler’s carry-on property as they move throughout the screening process.

• Cameras that capture images of the contents of each bin and are linked next to the X-ray image of a carry-on bag’s contents.

The new security scanners are a byproduct of the TSA’s Innovation Task Force, which began 18 months ago. Its goal is to re-envision the entire transportation security system and to better integrate all of its components.

“This will increase security effectiveness, while reducing friction to the traveler,” said Steve Karoly, TSA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Requirements and Capabilities analysis. “By automating some of the manual processes carried out by the TSA office and the passenger, TSA can focus on security and the passenger can move swiftly through the checkpoint.”

The scanners are 65 feet long and hold 40 trays per unit. Before the end of the trial, McCarran officials will extend the units to 75 feet and will decide which length they prefer before they make the decision to purchase them, according to Chris Jones, chief marketing officer for the airport.

After the trial, McCarran will likely move to replace the security scanners in Terminal 1 with the automated version.

“Safety and security is always our top priority for our customers here,” Jones said. “Closely behind safety and security is customer service. That’s why we’re so excited about these automated screening lanes.”

McCarran is the sixth airport in the country to use the lanes, joining Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

CORRECTION: This version of the story eliminates a reference to Terminal 2 at McCarran. | (September 1, 2017)

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