United to expand automated screening lanes at airports

United to expand automated screening lanes at airports
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United Airlines is teaming up with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to install new screening technology at select airports around the country.

As part of an effort to speed up wait times and improve security at checkpoints, Newark Liberty, Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles International will get automated screening lanes beginning as early as this fall.

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The new technology, which is already being tested at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, is estimated to reduce travel wait times by 30 percent. Five travelers at a time can load their baggage into bins.

American Airlines announced a joint initiative with the TSA earlier this month would install the modernized checkpoints at busy hubs in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami.

United is also working with the TSA to help set up enrollment centers at convenient locations, such as a temporary location at Chicago’s Willis Tower.

The announcement comes after the TSA faced intense criticism this spring for overwhelmed security lines that led to three-hour wait times in some cases and thousands of missed flights around the country. The agency is also dealing with a beefed up security presence at airports after two major terrorist attacks on airports abroad in recent months.

Automated belts can draw bags into X-ray machines and return bins back to the queue. Under the automated lane system, bags that need additional screening can be directed to a separate area while allowing bins behind it to continue through screening uninterrupted.

Each bin, which is 25 percent larger than a normal one, has a unique radio frequency identification tag, and cameras take photos of the outside of the bag, which correspond to the X-ray image of the bag’s contents.