ATL’s Revamped Security Lanes: Pros and Cons

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New security lines in ATL
The new security system under construction. Passengers line up and can load their belongings onto the bins much faster. (Photo from the AJC)

Security lines at Hartsfield-Jackson are stretching practically to Chattanooga. But the airport is making changes to speed up the process. One of these was unveiled this week.

The South Terminal checkpoint has been closed for three weeks while two security lanes were revamped with a new system designed to speed up the process of passengers unloading their items into the bins.

Because of its high volume, (hello, busiest airport in the world!) Atlanta is the first airport in the country chosen to test out this system, modeled after one at London’s Heathrow Airport. Delta put $1 million into implementing the new system.

Here’s how it works. Rather than grabbing a bin at the beginning of the lane yourself, loading it up, and waiting your turn to pass through, several people can line up at once and large bins roll up in front of them. They can all load their bins simultaneously, which then slide through on a conveyor belt.

I used these bins in Heathrow a few months ago and was delighted by them. Here are the pros and cons of the new system:Pros 

• There is no more scouting around for a bin, or waiting while a TSA agent wheels back a cart full of them. The bins come to you. When you’re done with a bin, you drop it on a lower conveyor belt and it’s automatically returned to the beginning. Like your bowling ball.

• There is no more shoving the bin down the table yourself and making sure it is all the way on the moving rollers. Or shoving the stuff of the person in front of you who neglected to do so.

• There is no more waiting behind the person in front of you to slowly remove their laptop, fiddle around with their suitcase, finish drinking their water. And then, oh yeah, take off their belt. In London, five of us lined up at once so we could empty our items into the bins at the same.

• There is no more stopping the line while a TSA agent continues to peer at a bag deciding what to do with it. A bag that needs further inspection is automatically routed to a separate conveyor belt.

All of these measures mean the lines move much quicker. As for the cons:


• Your bin may travel through screening much faster than you do. You may still have to wait in a short line to walk through screening yourself. That means your items will be out of your sight for a short time. I don’t like to have my valuable items, like my laptop, out of my sight, at all really.

That’s it. That’s the only downside I could see, and it’s a small one considering the many benefits.

Don’t expect miracles in reducing the length of security lines in Atlanta though. This system is only available on two lanes out of 28 total in the domestic terminal. The good news is that Delta is also putting $4 million into hiring additional TSA staff in Atlanta and other airports.







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