Automated lanes bring LaGuardia on par with New York area airports

Automated lanes bring LaGuardia on par with New York area airports

Four more lanes will open in Terminal D in the coming weeks.

LaGuardia has installed two
LaGuardia has installed two “automated screening checkpoint lanes” to help speed up TSA security lines. Photo Credit: NBC

Officials say checking in at one of the country’s busiest airports is now slightly more hassle-free.

The Transportation Security Administration and Delta opened two “automated screening checkpoint lanes” in LaGuardia’s Terminal C last week, with plans to open four more lanes in Terminal D in the coming weeks. The automated lanes use an enhanced conveyor belt system to expedite the X-ray screening of bags, allowing passengers to bypass slower-moving flyers and retrieve and deposit bins faster.

“We look at this new equipment and our partnership with Delta as being able to provide enhanced security while improving the traveler’s experience,” Robert Duffy, TSA’s federal security director at the airport, said in a statement. “The new automated screening lanes offer several features designed to improve the screening of travelers by automating many of the functions previously conducted manually, which allows travelers to move more swiftly and efficiently through the checkpoint.”

Each station is still manned by TSA agents, but the new lanes can accommodate multiple travelers at a time, and also feature bins that are 25 percent larger — big enough to fit roller bags, according to the TSA.

The stations incorporate separate tracks so that suspicious items don’t stop or congest the screenings. Cameras snap photographs of luggage exteriors and pair them side-by-side with X-rays, helping agents more quickly identify suspicious items.

As of May, five airports had been upgraded with automated screening lanes, including those in the New York City area. When Newark received 17 automated lanes in November, the TSA said time spent at security screenings would decrease by 30 percent. A TSA spokeswoman, noting a routine “break-in period,” said she didn’t have an actual percentage at this time. Kennedy Airport also has 17 automated lanes in Terminals 2 and 4.

Passing through security at New York City-area airports might be easier, but the three airports still rank among the worst in terms of delays.

Vincent Barone