Air travelers in Spokane are seeing changes in the way they check their bags at Concourse C at Spokane International Airport.
Travelers on Alaska and American airlines now have to carry their checked bags to a temporary baggage screening unit recently set up in the lobby of Concourse C.
The units were undergoing testing and training last week and are scheduled to go into full service on April 15. They are expected to remain in place through June 9.
This means that travelers will have to carry or roll their luggage to the screening machines after checking in for their flight and getting their bags tagged for their destination.
Porters will be available to help persons who have physical limitations and cannot carry their bags, officials said.
“We want to make sure no one is inconvenienced,” said Todd Woodard, airport spokesman.
While the change is minor in terms of its effect on individual passengers, the wider impact is significant in terms of improving security and baggage flow, airport officials said.
The change is part of a $5.5 million upgrade of baggage handling at the airport under a funding program from the federal Transportation Security Administration.
TSA is paying 100 percent of the cost.
Most of the upgrade is occurring in the back half of the airport out of sight of travelers.
The internal baggage screening and staging area at Concourse C was not large enough to accommodate the construction and screening operations at the same time.
That is the reason for putting machines temporarily in the Concourse C lobby.
The work will not affect passengers flying out of Concourses A and B. Those two concourses can accommodate construction and screening operations simultaneously without moving screening machines into the main terminal lobby.
“From a passenger perspective, you won’t see much of a change,” Woodard said.
When completed, the new equipment will enhance TSA’s ability to detect explosives or other dangers.
The job will update equipment installed in 2004 as part of the heightened security systems following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Lisa Corcoran, project manager, said the baggage screening areas used by TSA staff have needed improvement for some time.
The project is redesigning the layout of the system to reduce lifting motions for bag screeners, add air conditioning and increase lighting.
The screening machines generate enough heat that the airport’s air ventilation system cannot adequately cool work areas, she said, but that will change with the project.
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