Heathrow International Airport Asks: What Would it Mean Getting Through Security Faster?
Airport security is one of the most astonishing fetes of engineering and training ever seen. Even when considering how long the lines can be to get to the security baskets, it is still incredible how through the simple application of technology people are streaming through faster than ever before.
Ten years ago, it was advised that you arrive four hours ahead of your flight to make sure there are no delays and today that “safety-grace-period” has halved while the number of passengers have more than quadrupled.
It is a game of big decisions and big movements that affect millions of people every year and it’s incredible to see how businesses like Heathrow International are investing to make the process of flying even more convenient.
For businesses like airports, convenience is a powerful tool and something that can make all the difference. Convenience may only save minutes and seconds for passengers making their way through security to enter into the next chapter of their story but those minutes and seconds quickly add up and have a real determinable value.
Taking this on board, Heathrow International Airport recently invested over £50 million in cutting edge CT security equipment in their UK airport. Integration and gradual replacement of the current technology will be rolled out over the next few years but once fully operational the enhanced technology is expected to significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastics at Heathrow, with passengers no longer required to put liquids in bags.
Heathrow Chief Operations Officer, Chris Garton, who has been heavily involved in this update explains that Heathrow has always had a proud history of making every journey better, “We are delighted to be rolling out this new Ct Equipment,” he says, “The investment into this cutting edge kit will not only keep the airport safe with the latest technology but will also mean that future passengers can keep their focus on getting on with their journeys and less time preparing for security screening.”
The value of time will be obvious to anyone who’s travelled with carry on luggage and pretty much any parent ever who’s travelled with children. This new tech will mean that passengers can keep their liquids and their laptops inside their cabin baggage when passing through security. So, instead of disembowling your hand luggage to find that tube of toothpaste or your laptop you can just put the baggage on the conveyer and let the system to the rest.
WORKING TO MAINTAIN SUSTAINABILITY
Heathrow has been working with the Department for Transport to trial the technology since 2017 and is the first UK airport to do so. With the support of the Department for Transport, Heathrow is beginning a programme to install the new equipment across its terminals by 2022.
Beyond cutting the amount of time at security screening this is also going to have an affect on Heathrow’s endeavours to be increasingly sustainable. Currently, millions of single use plastic bags are filled every year at the airport destined to end up either in international dustbins or landfills, or as litter.
By reducing this amount of waste Heathrow is not only lowering their own footprint but also helping their passengers do the same.
The new CT technology (Computed Tomography) is the latest generation of 3D security equipment, providing even better images of cabin baggage more quickly. The move to install this equipment airport-wide will make the screening process and security even more robust, helping the airport’s teams to provide a more efficient and seamless search experience.
Once the rollout is complete, it will have the potential to transform the journey through the airport and is just one of the latest in a series of purchases by the airport to improve the passenger experience, culminating in the airport being ranked by passengers as one of the top 10 globally.
“Passenger safety remains our top priority and this programme clearly shows the huge importance we place on security,” Aviation Minister, Baroness Vere adds, “This innovative new equipment will ensure Heathrow continues to provide a safe and smooth travel experience for passengers, as we look to roll out this new screening technology at airports across the country.”
This rollout will also prepare the hub airport for the additional capacity that will be unlocked with Heathrow’s expansion. The plan is to upgrade its systems completely so that when it does increase its size the waiting times do not increase aswell.
Obviously, as the technology is being integrated gradually over the course of the next few years passengers will still be required to go through the customary security checks. This includes removing laptops and liquids from their bags for security screening. And, even once the technology is up, there will be occasions when security will have to do a more a thorough security check.