United, AA open automated security lanes at O'Hare

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United's automated security lanes at Chicago O'Hare.
United's automated security lanes at Chicago O'Hare.

United and American have opened automated security screening lanes at Chicago O'Hare, each carrier announced Monday. 

The United lanes in Chicago OHare's Terminal 1 are the first automated security lanes in the country to be dedicated exclusively to a PreCheck security checkpoint, the carrier said.

Each lane offers five stations, which means that five customers can simultaneously fill bins. In addition, the lanes have a second conveyor belt, which returns empty bins to the loading point after they have gone through screening.

American opened its two automated O'Hare security lanes at the airport's Terminal 3. They deploy bins that are 25% larger than the bins used in regular screening lanes. Bags that are deemed to need extra scrutiny as they pass through the belt can be diverted automatically so that bins further back in the queue can continue through the system. Radio frequency tags are attached to each bin, increasing the accountability of items as they go through the belt.

In addition, cameras on the belt take photos of the outside of the bag, which are linked to the X-ray image of the items in the bag. Finally, the automated belts have a second conveyor system, located near floor level, that returns empty bins back to the loading area.

The new lanes decrease screening time by 30%, American says.

The move toward security check automation by both United and American at O'Hare comes as part of an effort by the TSA to use technology to safely speed passage through airport checkpoints.

Delta opened two automated screening belts at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta in May. United launched automated screening lanes at Los Angeles International Airport in October and plans to open 17 automated security lanes at its Newark hub before Thanksgiving.

American and TSA anticipate deploying automated screening lanes at Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami and New York Kennedy in early 2017.

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