One bag? Use the express lane at PIT airport

Supermarkets have them, so why not airports?

(From my story on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin)

Air travelers trying to avoid checked luggage fees by taking along extra – or extra large – carry-on bags often clog up the works at security checkpoints.

But passengers flying out of Pittsburgh International Airport now have incentive to pack light and check those bags.

As of Tuesday, September 13, 2001, travelers with just one carry-on item are able to breeze through the airport’s new Express Security Lane, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

“Traffic has been increasing at our airport, and the checkpoint lines have been getting longer. This could pull up to 25 percent of the people out of the longer line and improve everyone’s experience,” said Bradley Penrod, executive director/CEO for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

The express line received approval from the Transportation Security Administration and will be staffed by security officers who will send passengers with both a carry-on bag and another item, such as a computer bag or purse, to one of the other, non-express, checkpoint lines. Jackets will be allowed, but not carry-ons larger than 22″ by 14″ by 9″.

“The program at Pittsburgh International Airport is one example of TSA partnering with airports to improve the passenger experience, while providing world-class security,” said TSA spokesperson Greg Soule.

Frequent flier and registered traveler programs already promise some travelers a quicker path to the secure side of many of the nation’s more than 450 commercial airports, but Pittsburgh airport officials believe they’ve come up with a novel, universally accessible idea.

“Even TSA couldn’t confirm we were the first airport to do this,” said Penrod. “But we expect if it works here, other airports will start offering express lanes as well.”