Ben Gurion airport set to automate luggage security

Ben Gurion airport set to automate luggage security

Israel’s main air hub to begin trial of hi-tech system that promises to significantly shorten wait before boarding

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The departure terminal at Ben-Gurion Airport (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
The departure terminal at Ben-Gurion Airport (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Israel’s main international airport is set to begin trials of a new automated baggage security system that will cut down on the time passengers spend waiting in line to check in their luggage.

Passengers will place their baggage onto conveyor belts that take the bags below ground, where sophisticated scanning technology will check each suitcase automatically, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday. The system is designed to identify explosives and other dangerous items. Suspicious bags are siphoned away — presumably to a manual security check — while cleared luggage is sent for loading onto planes.

With their luggage taken care of, passengers will need only to check in at the flight desks, bringing to an end the current long wait endured as each suitcase is currently checked manually. Even once the system is operational, however, security staff will continue to question passengers at the check-in, as an additional precaution.

The new method was also touted as a solution to ease travel for Arab passengers, who have long complained that because their luggage is always extensively searched by hand, they are forced to arrive earlier for flights.

“It won’t eliminate the experiences of Arab citizens at the airport, but there is no doubt that it is an important and significant step to bring change,” Nasrin Alian, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told Channel 2.

According to the report, the airport’s Terminal 3, which currently handles the bulk of international flights, will be closed for seven hours on Friday while the new system is tested on 5,000 suitcases. Passengers will be diverted to the smaller Terminal 1 while the trial is under way.

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