With the first phase of The New Salt Lake City Airport (The New SLC) open to travelers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has transitioned its security operations to the new terminal.
Travelers departing The New SLC will be greeted by a single, centralized security checkpoint outfitted with Automated Screening Lanes (ASLs). With ASLs, multiple travelers are able to simultaneously place their items in bins for screening; conveyor belts move bins into the X-ray machine tunnel and automatically return the bins to the front of the security checkpoint. Any bag that requires a bag search will be electronically diverted while other luggage continues uninterrupted through the screening process.
ASL bins are 25 percent larger than a typical bin and are able to hold a roll-aboard suitcase. Each bin contains a unique Radio Frequency Identification tag that allows for additional accountability of a traveler’s carry-on property as it moves through the security screening process. Cameras integrated into the ASLs capture images of the contents of each bin and are linked side-by-side to the X-ray image of the contents of the carry-on bag’s contents.
In addition to the ASLs, the security checkpoint features eight Advanced Imaging Technology body scanners, nine walk-through metal detectors as well as explosive detection equipment. TSA PreCheckTM screening is available alongside general screening lanes. The expansive security checkpoint offers 16 lanes at full capacity.
“TSA worked closely with the Salt Lake City Department of Airports for the past several years to design TSA work areas within The New SLC to ensure optimal space for our employees to carry out the security mission. As a result, TSA will see improved efficiency in all our operations,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Utah Mark Lewis. “Travelers departing The New SLC can expect to see new equipment and state-of-the art technology. We are excited to be a partner in this successful and massive undertaking.”
TSA employees took part in two simulations in August to preview and prepare for operations in the new airport. It included several hours of TSA and airport staff passing through the main checkpoint with carry-on bags to ensure all of the screening equipment was calibrated and fully functional.
TSA was also responsible for searching and inspecting more than two million square feet of the new terminal sterile area to ensure all prohibited items were removed so that The New SLC could open to travelers.
At The New SLC and at airports across the country, TSA has made procedural and policy changes to help travelers understand multiple protective measures that are in place to make the screening process safer and healthier for the traveling public and the TSA workforce due to COVID-19. These procedures have been implemented without compromising security.
TSA has instituted social distancing guidelines to ensure that travelers have adequate space around them while going through the security checkpoint. TSA may opt to open additional screening lanes as needed. TSA also requires its officers to maintain social distance while conducting security screening protocols.
In order to reduce physical contact during the identity verification process, travelers will be asked to keep possession of their paper or electronic boarding pass and scan it on an electronic reader themselves. Travelers will need to hold the boarding passes up to the TSA officer for visual inspection. This self-service move reduces a touchpoint in the security checkpoint.
Departing travelers can expect to see all TSA officers wearing face masks and gloves during the screening process. If a TSA officer is working in close proximity to travelers, they are also required to wear eye protection or a face shield. TSA officers will change their gloves after each screening position rotation, after a pat-down or upon a passenger’s request.
TSA has increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the security checkpoint, including bins. However, that is no substitute for practicing good hygiene while traveling. Travelers are therefore encouraged to wash their hands before and after going through the checkpoint.