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TSA highlights security technologies, renovated checkpoint at Jackson Hole Airport

JACKSON, Wyo. (KIFI) - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began screening travelers earlier Tuesday in a renovated security checkpoint at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), which reopened Tuesday after an 11-week planned closure.

During the temporary closure of JAC, TSA modified staffing and operations at neighboring airports including Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) to accommodate and screen travelers who would normally depart from JAC. Located about 100 miles to the west, IDA was the closest airport to the Jackson area and IDA saw the greatest increase in the number of travelers. Other airports impacted were Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport in Rock Springs; Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody; and Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport in Bozeman.

With the reopening of JAC, travelers will be screened through a four-lane security checkpoint that features a dedicated TSA PreCheck lane. The renovated checkpoint is more spacious and also features higher ceilings and updated queue space.

“TSA is pleased that air travel has returned to the Jackson Hole Airport. With a very busy summer travel season underway and increasing numbers of people traveling by air nationwide, we are poised to deliver the most efficient security in the most effective manner here at JAC,” TSA Federal Security Director for Wyoming Richard Whitmer said. “We are grateful to our partners at JAC who expertly executed the closure of the airport and timely reopening of it.”

TSA continues to use the same security technologies that were in place prior to the checkpoint renovation. These include a computed tomography (CT) scanner to screen travelers’ carry-on luggage in the security checkpoint. This type of scanner provides advanced explosives detection capabilities by applying a sophisticated algorithm to generate a 3-D image of the contents of the carry-on bag. A security screening officer can manipulate the 3-D X-ray image on-screen to allow for a better view of the bag’s contents, ultimately reducing the number of bag checks that are required.

When a carry-on bag is screened through a CT scanner, travelers can leave everything in their carry-on bag, including electronics larger than a cell phone and food. Another requirement of the CT scanner system is every carry-on item must be placed in a bin for screening.

In addition to the CT scanner, TSA has three Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units at JAC. CAT units are programmed to confirm the validity of a traveler’s photo identification and confirm flight information in real-time by matching the passenger’s biographical information from the photo ID against the Secure Flight database.  

When travelers approach the travel document checking podium and CAT is in use, they will either insert their own photo ID into the CAT unit or hand over their photo ID to the security screening officer. There is no need for a boarding pass at this point since the Secure Flight database contains the names and flight details for people ticketed to travel in the next 24 hours. CAT units are designed to identify fraudulent documents and those that have been tampered with.

Other security technologies in the checkpoint include a body scanner, also referred to as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), which screens travelers for metallic and non-metallic items concealed in layers of clothing that may pose a security threat on an aircraft. There are also walk-through metal detectors. X-ray units to screen carry-on luggage; explosive trace detection units as well as a bottle liquid scanner, which is used for screening medically-necessary liquids in quantities larger than 100 ml.

Summer travel outlook

Nationwide, TSA is screening an average of 2.24 million people per day, which is a 20% increase over last year’s volumes, but still down from pre-pandemic 2019 levels when TSA was screening approximately 2.56 million people on average per day. TSA anticipates increasing travel volumes leading into the Fourth of July holiday period.

Generally speaking, the busiest days to travel are Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sundays and Mondays. Flight departure schedules are determined by the airlines. When there is a concentrated number of flight departures over a short period of time, there will be intervals when the number of departing passengers may exceed the capacity of the TSA security checkpoint at many airports, so arriving early is key.

Since airports across the country remain busy, there is no substitute for arriving early and prepared for travel. There is a pent up demand for travel and you can expect to find every step of the travel process busy. Below are some helpful tips to navigate the security screening experience from any airport:

  • While standing in a checkpoint line, use time wisely. Remove items from pockets such as wallets, keys, lip balm, tissues and cell phones and place them into carry-on bags instead of putting items from pockets directly into bins. It’s also the best time to have your photo ID in hand prior to walking up to the travel document checking podium.
  • Enroll in TSA PreCheck. The popular expedited screening program allows travelers to leave on shoes, jackets, belts and enables them to keep their electronics and 3-1-1 bags in their carry-on bags in any screening lane at any airport. Due to these benefits, TSA PreCheck lanes move the quickest. 
  • Know before you go! Know what can and cannot go in a carry-on bag from firearms to oversize liquids. Prohibited items result in bag checks and checkpoint delays. Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask us on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA.
  • Get answers to traveling with medications or special circumstances answered. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint.
Article Topic Follows: Wyoming

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