A few weeks ago, I flew down to Dallas with a friend to pick up a very important package. It was just a quick overnight so I flew only with my backpack — and I was very happy I did. Our flight was just after 5PM.
Normally, unless an Allegiant Air flight is about to depart, the TSA lines in South Bend (SBN) look a lot like the above, that is, almost no one (well or very few anyway). TSA PreCheck is still nice to have; I have not had to take my laptop out or shoes off for a long time now.
But when my friend and I arrived at the TSA checkpoint, this time there were two separate lines, plus a wide- open PreCheck. My friend did not have PreCheck so I waited with him and we were put in the shorter line because we only had one single item each. Those with a carry-on and another item were put in the very long line of about 30 people (again we are talking South Bend here). What was the issue?
That morning, TSA was upgrading both of the carry-on bag scanners to the new units you see above. I was told the wait time while they were getting the first scanner up and running was over four hours long! I would never DREAM of coming to SBN four hours before my flight.
In fact, short TSA lines are one of the draws for flying local vs. flying out of the much cheaper Chicago market. The wait times were so bad, I was told, that the first Delta flight of the day left without 40+ people who were stuck in the line.
As of today, both scanners are up and running. They have some HUGE perks that will save time at the TSA checkpoint as these Anagogic scanners allow everyone to leave their laptops and liquids in their bags.
From a security standpoint, the TSA folks were just giddy over how much better these new units are and that they can see a 3D image of what is inside your bag and flip and spin the object to get a close view.
Is there any downside other than the possible nightmare of installation day? Maybe. Over the years I have written a number of posts about ways to avoid paying bag fees if you do not have status or a credit card to get a free bag. These new units may be, unlike your old ones, a bit smaller at the entrance to the scanner — meaning you can not take a rather large carryon and then request to have it checked free at the gate. Another negative, if you are an old school non-digital photographer, you will want to take any film you have out of your bag before sending your camera through the scanner.
Has your airport been upgraded yet? – René
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