Airport tries express lane for fliers with one carry-on

By A. Pawlowski, CNNPublished 14th September 2011
A Transportation Security Administration agent helps travelers move through security lines at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Call it a security version of the speedy supermarket checkout.
Passengers traveling with one carry-on item now have the option of going through an express security lane at Pittsburgh International Airport.
"This move comes as a result of more people carrying more items through the checkpoint to avoid airline bag fees," said Bradley D. Penrod, executive director and CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
"The express lane is a way to streamline the wait at the checkpoint for those who pack light and fit it all in one bag."
The lane, just to the right of the airport's main security checkpoint and staffed by a Transportation Security Administration employee, began operations Tuesday.
Only travelers with one item -- such as a purse, a briefcase, a computer case -- are allowed to use the express lane. Jackets aren't counted as an extra item, but anything else would require passengers to use the other security lines.
Traveler reaction so far has been positive, said JoAnn Jenny, a spokeswoman for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
"It's been hugely popular," Jenny said. "People were really excited about it."
She said she believes Pittsburgh International is the first U.S. airport to try this particular concept, though other airports have versions of express lanes, including one dedicated for expert travelers, frequent fliers and so on.
It's not a pilot program that may go nationwide but rather a fix for a "Pittsburgh-specific issue," Jenny said.
Long security lines at the airport over the summer -- sometimes an hour or longer during peak periods -- had officials scrambling for a solution. So they approached the TSA and received the thumbs up for the express lane concept.
"TSA works with airports across the country to provide the best possible security in the most efficient way possible," said Greg Soule, a spokesman for the agency.
"The program at Pittsburgh International Airport is one example of TSA partnering with airports to improve the passenger experience while providing world-class security."
Pittsburgh International hopes the express lane will get more people thinking about packing light so that when the busy holiday season comes around, most will be traveling with just one carry-on, Jenny said.