The automation of air travel continues with Chicago's brand-new security lanes.

By Raisa Bruner
November 14, 2016
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Travelers checking in at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport might be in luck this Thanksgiving, as both United and American Airlines are working to streamline and automate their security processes during check-in.

United opened a new TSA PreCheck checkpoint and automated lanes, and American launched two of its own automated lanes. They're small steps forward with big potential payouts in the effort to speed up the air travel process.

How does that automation work, exactly? It all comes down to an improved conveyor belt system, which enables five passengers to fill bins simultaneously. The bins will also be larger—up to 25 percent roomier, so passengers will need to grab fewer of them to curry their belongings down the belt.

TSA agents will still be involved as passengers move farther through screening, but the inevitable slow-downs at the bin stations should be diminished with the automated system. Other innovations: Bins will be automatically returned to the queue, and bags with potential threats will be directed to a separate area for further inspection.

Of course, the new developments represent just a drop in the giant, problematic bucket that is holiday travel delays.

“Earlier this year, wait times at TSA checkpoints escalated to an unacceptable 104 minutes,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, referring to O’Hare’s onerous wait times. While the Chicago airport has since diminished the waits to hit par with national averages, the travel hub knows there’s always room for improvement.

And as frequent fliers are aware, when you’re trying to catch a flight, every minute counts.