New technology expected to shorten security lines at Sea-Tac

SEATAC, Wash. – Travelers can expect shorter lines through security at Sea-Tac Airport within a couple of years following the installation of a new technology to inspect carry-on luggage faster.

The new procedure will allow faster passengers to get around slower ones, thus speeding up the security lines for everyone.

The technology already is used at airports in Chicago, Atlanta and London. Instead of one passenger at a time, the new automated screening lanes will allow up to five people to unload their belongings into bins simultanesouly. And here’s the best part – the person who is ready first can push their bin forward to move ahead in line.

Port of Seattle commissioners approved the $30 million upgrade earlier this week.

But some travelers remain skeptical that the change will actually benefit them.

“It seems like things will be more streamlined for the faster people to go,” said Danielle Castagna, who was flying out of Sea-Tac on Thursday. “But then, I have a 3-year-old, and it takes me a while, so I feel like I’m going to be jumped. And then still going to lose my spot in line.”

Sea-Tac is taking bids for the installation of the new system – and it will then be phased in at security checkpoints between now and 2019.

In the meantime, Transportation Security Administration agents soon will be taking a closer look into carry-on bags – focusing on electronics as they look to tighten preboarding security.

Passengers now will have to remove any electronics over the size of a phone from their carry-on and place it in a separate bin. That includes tablets, e-readers and game consoles. They will be run through security separately just like you already have to do with laptops.

According to TSA officials, having these items in separate bins allows for a clearer X-ray image and greater scrutiny. The Department of Homeland Security says terrorists were becoming better at hiding explosive devisces inside electronics, and thus these changes will help to combat that threat.

One exception – the process will not affect TSA precheck lanes. Those passengers can keep their electronics inside their carry-ons.

TSA officials are adamant that these changes will not make the preboarding process take any longer, and passengers may see extra personnel at the front of X-ray machines to help speed up this process.

TSA officials say the changes will be phased in over the coming months to allow for proper training.