San Diego Airport Reveals New Baggage System

The airport’s president says the system will increase efficiency and security.

The San Diego International Airport unveiled Terminal Two’s new baggage handling system Tuesday.

In a behind-the-scenes tour, NBC 7 got a glimpse of what happens after passengers check their luggage.

The system includes1.5 miles of conveyor belts, according to airport officials. It currently handles 100,000 bags a month, but that number will increase after the terminal’s new gates go online.

Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Nico Melendez explains how the system works: After passengers check their luggage, the bags are screened for explosives; they are either cleared or sent to a TSA agent for inspection. Then a conveyor belt takes the bags to the runway.

“It will process a bag from intake to ready to go to the plane in about 10 minutes,” said Thella Bowens, President and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

“It gets it back to the way it was for passengers pre-9/11, where they dropped their bags off at the ticket counter and they say goodbye to it until they see it on the other side,” Melendez said.

The new system cost $35 million, 90 percent of which was funded by the Department of Homeland Security, according to Bowens.

Besides security, officials say the system will increase efficiency. The fully automated system means less physical strain on employees. It could also mean fewer chances for lost baggage.

“The technology in the system really helps to make sure the bags are properly sorted and that they are going to the right place more frequently than what manual technology would have done,” Bowens said.

The Terminal Two expansion is expected to open this August. The terminal added six new security lines in March.

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