Delta Air Lines is making a push to help speed up increasingly long airport security lines.
“At the end of the day, it’s a hassle for us if our customers’ travel plans get disrupted because they’re stuck at security. We end up spending time and money to rebook them and want more control over the security process,” said the Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant.
One of the airline’s initiatives for faster security, called innovation lanes, made its debut last week at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (the airline is based in Atlanta).
Mr. Durrant said that the carrier invested $1 million in the lanes and worked with the Transportation Security Administration to test them and make them operational; they were developed by Delta’s team of industrial engineers.
In the United States, passengers going through airport security usually unload their belongings into bins one at a time, but with the innovation lanes, five fliers can unload their belongings in five different bins at the same time.
The bins in the new lanes automatically move back to the beginning of the security line, so agents don’t have to handle them.
Also, bins containing potentially prohibited items such as water bottles are routed to a separate area after a T.S.A. employee pushes a button indicating that they need to be further inspected, a system designed to keep passengers moving through the line.
Mr. Durrant said that since the lanes began operation, on average, 30 percent more passengers are getting through security in a day than was the case before the new system was instituted.
While Delta is looking to possibly introduce more of these innovation lanes in other airports around the country, it has also spent close to $4 million on more staffing at 32 United States airports to help the T.S.A. open additional checkpoint lanes at peak hours. These Delta employees are helping the agency with non-screening tasks such as moving bins and managing lines. Since Delta began giving the T.S.A. the extra help, in early May, Mr. Durrant said that the agency has been able to open nearly 30 lanes that would have otherwise gone unstaffed.
Additionally, later this year, the airline will announce more details on its partnership with the biometric identification service Clear, which, similar to T.S.A. Precheck, makes preflight risk assessments. Delta has bought a five percent stake of the company and plans to provide the service, which currently costs $179 a year, free to its U.S. Diamond Medallion members (these are the airline’s most frequent fliers) and discounting it for its Skymiles customers.