Toronto

Faster airport security? New automated checkpoints may have you sailing through

Over the next several years, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority will convert all security checkpoints to the 'CATSA Plus' system that involves fewer visible officers and more computers to expedite travellers through pre-boarding security faster.

Officers will review X-rays in separate room and faster travellers can cut in line at conveyor belts

The plan is to replace the current checkpoints with the new CATSA Plus layout over the next few years. (Christopher Langenzarde/CBC)

Over the next several years, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will convert all security checkpoints to the 'CATSA Plus' system that involves fewer visible officers and more computers to expedite travellers through pre-boarding security, without compromising on safety.

Passengers might save the most time at the conveyor belts while guiding their carry-on luggage toward the X-ray.

"With the old system, only one person at a time was able to take a bin and put his or her belongings in it," CATSA spokesperson Matieu Larocque said at a media tour at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
CATSA spokesperson Mathieu Larocque says passengers still need to do their research and understand items that aren't permitted on planes so they don't clog the line getting avoidable bag checks. (Christopher Langenzarde/CBC)

"With this new system up to four passengers can do that at the same time," he said. And, Larocque added, passengers with less in their bag or those with more travel experience can jump ahead of those who are slower. "If you require a little more time you can take your time and passengers who are faster can bypass you," Larocque said.

All the rollers are motorized 
If a carry-on item is flagged, automated rollers will divert the bin to a separate conveyor belt for examination. (CATSA/Youtube)

To pick up the pace even more, the conveyor belts have automatic rollers that take the bins with your carry-on luggage down the line. 

The bins are smart, too. Each one has a serial number on the side and if its contents are flagged, the rollers will divert it to a separate lane for examination by a CATSA officer. 

Screening officers look at X-rays in a separate room 
Screening officers will look at X-rays in remote screening rooms away from the people traffic at the checkpoint. (CATSA/Youtube)

"It allows them to be more focused, away from distractions and they are able to process more bins per hour," said Larocque. From their desks in the 'remote screening room' they can divert bags that need to be checked down the line where CATSA officers will call up a screen shot from the X-ray.

Sensors track you walking through the checkpoint 
CATSA has a mobile app called 'Breeze through security' with information about what you can bring on a plane, as well as wait times at security. (Christopher Langenzarde/CBC)

CATSA is developing a system that will measure people traffic and wait times through the checkpoint. Sensors in the ceiling would anonymously track your movement.

Wait times would be updated on screens at the airport and on CATSA's 'Breeze through security' mobile app.

New checkpoints will phase out the current system across Canada

The security checkpoint for U.S. departures at Pearson's Terminal 1 is the latest to be converted to the 'CATSA Plus' system. The new lanes have already been operating at Calgary International Airport and Montreal's Trudeau International Airport and more are scheduled to roll out across Canada over the next several years. 

Larocque explained it will be an 'incremental roll-out,' the timing of which will rely on federal funding.