Last week the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offered a rare behind-the-scenes look at the journey luggage takes through the Philadelphia International Airport baggage handling system.
As one of the first airports to implement automated explosive-detection in 2003, following government mandate introduction of explosive-detection screening after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
TSA spokesman, Michael McCarthy said, “Some people think the TSA opens and physically screens every single bag. That may have been the case immediately following 9/11, but not today.”
The automation of explosive-detection at Philadelphia International baggage handling system can mean that 1,000 bags every hour are screened – via an in-line system of conveyor belts and detection machinery.
The luggage embarks on a 15-minute journey through the airport baggage handling system and travels almost a quarter of a mile, almost never being handled by human hands. If cleared, via sophisticated CT scanning equipment, the luggage makes its way to the aircraft. If an alarm is activated, or if TSA wants a closer look, the bag is removed, opened and physically searched by a TSA officer at an inspection station.
Electronic screening and an automated baggage handling system can improve operational productivity at airports by streamlining a previously complicated, manual system. Not only does the system improve efficiency, but can also reduce physical injuries from lifting heavy baggage and reduce the possibility of damage to passenger baggage or instances of theft.