Dulles Airport travelers can choose shorter security line - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Dulles Airport travelers can choose shorter security line

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DULLES, Va. -

Passengers at Dulles International Airport are now tipped off which security screening area at the facility -- East or West -- has a longer wait. They can then choose to go to where the shorter lines are.

Here is how it works: video from the television cameras in the security area get fed into a computer with a program that, once a minute, counts heads, and estimates the number of minutes it will take for the last person in line to go through. The waiting time for each screening area is then displayed on overhead signs in the airport. Passengers can now steer themselves to where the lines are shorter.

There is another change. Some frequent-flier passengers go through a special "TSA pre-check" area, where they don't have to take off shoes or belts. Nowadays at Dulles, during busy periods, passengers are herded into a separate queuing area, quickly checked with explosive-sniffing dogs, and some of them -- randomly -- are allowed to go through the TSA pre-check area, which is quicker for all concerned.

Dulles is now using a fully automated baggage screening conveyor belt for checked luggage. This is quicker than the previous system of having TSA personnel picking up and putting down every bag. About a third of the 30,000 checked bags a day at Dulles are now on the quicker automated system.

Most passengers at Dulles now get to their gate areas using an underground subway system, which is fully automated. Human operators -- in a control room -- oversee the train system, but trains start and stop, and doors open and close, automatically.

The subway cars have been running for three-and-a-half years, and this year's reliability record has been nearly perfect: 99.8 percent reliable, according to the manager of the Aero Train, Henry John. Since January 1, John estimates the train system has been "down" an average of only five minutes a month.


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