TSA highlights security technologies, renovated checkpoint at Billings Logan International Airport
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TSA highlights security technologies, renovated checkpoint at Billings Logan International Airport

Oct 20, 2023

BILLINGS, Montana - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began screening travelers earlier today in a relocated security checkpoint at Billings Logan International Airport (BIL). The new checkpoint, located on the second floor of the terminal, is part of a five-phase, multi-year terminal expansion project underway at BIL.

With the opening of the BIL checkpoint, travelers will be screened through a three-lane security checkpoint with a dedicated entrance on the left for TSA PreCheck®-eligible travelers. The new checkpoint is more spacious, features updated queue space and state-of-the art security screening technology. Planning for future growth, the checkpoint can be expanded to include a fourth screening lane.

"TSA is pleased to be screening travelers through a new security checkpoint at BIL that features increased capacity and the latest technologies. The revised design positions us to deliver the most efficient screening experience in the most effective manner," said TSA acting Federal Security Director for Montana David Durgan. "We are grateful for the strong partnership we have with the airport community that made today possible."

Overnight, airport and TSA personnel worked together to relocate dozens of pieces of security screening equipment to the new checkpoint. Today at 4 a.m., all of TSA's passenger and carry-on luggage screening operations were conducted at the new location.

As part of the renovation, TSA installed three new computed tomography (CT) scanners in the security checkpoint to screen travelers’ personal carry-on property. The CT scanner provides advanced explosives detection capabilities by applying a sophisticated algorithm to generate a 3-D image of the contents of the carry-on bag. A security screening officer can manipulate the 3-D X-ray image on-screen to allow for a better view of the bag's contents, ultimately reducing the number of bag checks that are required.

When a carry-on bag is screened through a CT scanner, travelers can leave everything in their carry-on bag, including electronics and travel-size liquids. Another feature of the CT scanner system is every carry-on item must be placed inside a bin for screening.

The opening to the X-ray tunnel on a CT scanner is slightly smaller than a traditional X-ray unit. TSA advises travelers not to force larger items into the tunnel and instead ask a TSA officer for assistance. TSA also strongly recommends that larger carry-on items be checked with the airline prior to coming to the security checkpoint

In addition to the CT scanners, TSA has two Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units at BIL. CAT units are programmed to confirm the validity of a traveler's photo identification and confirm flight information in real-time by matching the passenger's biographical information from the photo ID against the Secure Flight database.

When travelers approach the travel document checking podium and CAT is in use, they will either insert their own photo ID into the CAT unit or hand over their photo ID to the TSA officer. There is no need for a boarding pass at this point since the Secure Flight database contains the names and flight details for people ticketed to travel in the next 24 hours. CAT units are designed to identify fraudulent documents and those that have been tampered with.

Other security technologies in the checkpoint at BIL include a body scanner, also referred to as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). It screens travelers for metallic and non-metallic items that may be concealed in layers of clothing and pose a security threat on an aircraft. There are also two walk-through metal detectors, bag search stations, a private screening area, explosive trace detection units as well as a bottle liquid scanner, which is used for screening medically-necessary liquids in quantities larger than 100 ml.

The security checkpoint opens daily at 4 a.m. and remains open until 6 p.m. or until the last flight of the day departs, whichever is later. On average, TSA is currently screening approximately 32,000 departing travelers each month at BIL.

Travel tips for BILNationwide in October, TSA is screening an average of 2.21 million people a day at airports across the country. This is an 11% increase over last year's volumes, but still down from pre-pandemic 2019 levels when TSA was screening approximately 2.39 million people on average per day in October. TSA anticipates increasing travel volumes leading into the traditional Thanksgiving and end of the year holiday period.

Generally speaking, the busiest days to travel are Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sundays and Mondays. The busiest times of days at BIL are the morning from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Flight departure schedules are determined by the airlines. When there is a concentrated number of flight departures over a short period of time, that is when the security checkpoint is busiest. That is why arriving early and prepared is key.

Below are some helpful tips to navigate the security screening experience at any airport:

Travel tips for BIL