By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is no more waiting in line for the fumbling passenger in front of you at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s south checkpoint.

“It works swell,” said passenger Charlie Githler. “It was expedient, no hassles.”

Chalk it up to the airport’s newly-installed Automated Screening Lane (ASL) system.

It is designed after systems operating in Europe that bring a greater level of security, along with increased efficiency.

What passengers will first notice is that they don’t have to wait for the passenger in front of them to proceed through security screening.

There are four individual bin stations within each of the four automated lanes. You are free to proceed through body screening just as soon as you place all carry-on items in the bin.

msp airport automated screening lane Enhanced MSP Checkpoint Designed For Greater Security, Efficiency

(credit: CBS)

“You’ll flip the bin over, you’ll put the roller bag or any type of extra carry-on you have in [the bin],” said Transportation Security Administration Spokeswoman Lorie Dankers. “It’s important that everything goes into the bin.”

That’s why the bins are now 25-percent larger. Dankers says automated conveyors greatly enhance the speed and efficiency of the system.

“When you’re done, just push it forward and the bin will be on its way,” Dankers said.

Each bin is chipped with a code so it can be individually photographed and matched to images on high-definition scanners.

Bags considered a potential threat are automatically kicked onto another conveyor into an isolated lane, and then brought to a TSA agent for a manual bag check.

The passenger can’t access the bag until it’s cleared.

“If there’s nothing called on one lane, we can move to another lane with that bag to do the bag check-in,” said TSA Supervisor Cade Hammerschmidt. “So it speeds things up greatly.”

Automated conveyors feed empty bins back to the front of the line where more passengers entering

It relieves agents of the mundane duties of handling and stacking empty bins, allowing them to do more important work.

“It’s all-in-one,” said Carlos Cox, the TSA’s Deputy of Screening. “We’ve got the effectiveness there, we definitely have the efficiency wrapped into one.”

The TSA expects a learning curve with passengers, as with anything new and different. But they’ll catch on quickly if they’re anything like Charlie Githler.

“It’s quicker, much more efficient,” Githler said. “It seems to be working pretty well.”

It’s an improvement designed to keep air travel safe and passengers happy.

The $2-million upgrade was paid for by MSP.

The high-tech lanes are currently operating only at the airport’s south checkpoint inside Terminal One. Plans are in the works to upgrade the north checkpoint sometime next year.

MSP is just one of eight airports in the nation with the new ASL technology.

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