A trip to the airport is seldom a relaxing experience: crowded terminals can make the check-in process a difficult one, but the federal government is field-testing new technology to make the security screening process less of a chore.
CATSA Plus has been in place since the end of August in Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
The new test lane features motorized rollers to ensure passengers always have bins at hand, a remote X-ray viewing room where several officers can screen bags free from distractions and a separate station where passengers can repack their bags without slowing down the line.
“The goal of the CATSA Plus concept is to improve the passenger experience, to increase security at the checkpoint and also to improve the flow of passengers,” said Mathieu Larocque, a spokesperson for CATSA.
Several of the elements of the new system have been tested separately in different airports around the country.
Trudeau airport is the first to roll out the system’s full functionality.
Is the new system actually faster?
Global News timed two passengers: one used the traditional security line, the other tried out the new system.
The timer ran from the moment they scanned their papers until the moment they finished the screening.
Taking into consideration that it was not peak travel time and everyone moves at a different pace: the passenger who used the old set-up took 3 minutes, 15 seconds.
The passenger using the new system, André Bélanger, clocked in at 2 minutes, 22 seconds, nearly a full minute faster.
“It was alright, it was pretty fast but they made a special test on me because I forgot a piece of money in my pocket,” Bélanger said with a laugh.
Other passengers liked it too.
“It’s very fast and it’s very comfortable,” Soubie Kim said, adding she would like to see it in other airports.
Calgary International Airport will be the first airport to fully install the new lanes in the fall.
As for Trudeau airport, officials said there’s still a lot of work to do before the lanes become a permanent fixture.
“These lines require a lot of space, so they might not fit all airports or all checkpoints,” Larocque said.
“We’re gonna have to work with airports on all that and also funding.”
Each fast lane could cost up to $500,000.
The project already has the nod from Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau.
“I fully support the CATSA Plus program as it provides Canadians with improved screening services and a better travelling experience,” he said in a statement.
“I applaud CATSA for being innovative while maintaining and upholding Canada’s stringent aviation security standards.”
Montreal’s test lane will be in place until Jan. 17, 2017.