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Summer Time - And The Living Is Easier: DFW International Airport Revamps Checkpoints To Make Security Lines Faster For Summer Travelers

Improvements Include More Lines and New Signage in Time for Memorial Day Kickoff to Busy Summer Travel Season; Low Fares Drawing Passengers to Airport

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (May 26, 2005) — DFW International Airport today unveiled a host of new procedures to speed security checkpoint lines, as Memorial Day passengers kick off the busy summer travel season. The improvements should better prepare passengers for quick passage through the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) security checkpoints, and improve DFW’s checkpoint wait times, which are already among the fastest in the nation. 

Highlighting the initiative are double entry lanes at each checkpoint to keep passengers moving quickly through the pre-screening process and roomier spaces past the screening stations for passengers to collect their belongings. Passengers are advised of the improvements with new signs on the process of getting ready for the checkpoint, done in pictograms easy for anyone to understand. DFW is also providing plastic drawstring bags to hold valuables, and disposable slippers for those who do not want to walk barefoot on the floor after removing their shoes. 

“We found that our wait times were increasing because of a number of factors, but a big reason was that people don’t prepare for the checkpoint until they are right on top of it.” said Jim Crites, executive vice president of operations at DFW. “That’s why we’re taking steps to educate our passengers and put the responsibility on everyone, airport workers and passengers, to help speed up the security lines.” 

A study of DFW’s checkpoints last month found that 62% of the Airport’s passengers made it through security in five minutes or less. While that is a very high figure for an airport of DFW’s size, it is down from the 75% figure calculated in April of 2004. 

To solve the problem DFW planners studied each of the Airport’s 18 checkpoints over the past 3 months, armed with stopwatches and clipboards. What they found were bottlenecks prior to screening stations and more bottlenecks as passengers wait for their carry on items to clear the X-ray machines.

The result: passengers are now encouraged to prepare for the security check well ahead of the screeners, by placing their belongings into plastic bags and bins. And once through security, passengers have additional space to collect their belongings and head to their departure gate.

“It’s good business and good customer service while keeping our security measures very high,” said Jim Lair, Acting Federal Security Director for the Transportation Security Administration.

The checkpoint areas will also now have new floor markings pointing out two lanes for each screening station, and benches to sit down for shoe removal and to give more passengers time to divest themselves of their belongings. There will also be additional trash cans, recycle bins for the plastic bags and new exit “flapper” doors to cut down on security alarms from people prematurely going through the exit doors. 

DFW has provided about $320,000 upfront in improvements to upgrade the checkpoints, and the Airport estimates the new measures will add about $700,000 a year in ongoing costs. Most of that expense is for the plastic bags and disposable slippers. DFW expects to use almost 3 million of each during a typical calendar year.

The new checkpoint improvements are certainly timely, if projections for the summer travel season hold true. DFW projects that 15.9 million passengers will visit the Airport from June through August, a number about 2.3% lower than the 2004 figure of 16.6 million passengers. Since the summer of 2004, DFW has experienced the elimination of Delta Air Lines’ hub operations here, accounting for the decline, and the Airport is still recovering. 

“Even with overall traffic down slightly from last year’s numbers, we’re still experiencing a lot of growth and our fares are better than ever,” said Joe Lopano, executive vice president of marketing and terminal management. “We’re looking forward to Alaska Airlines and Mexicana starting service at DFW this summer, as well as the opening of International Terminal D in July. And our low fare carriers continue to set records for passengers and prices. Our passengers are getting more competition and more choices every day. ” 

Alaska Airlines will begin twice-daily service from DFW to Seattle in mid-July out of Terminal E. Mexicana will begin service from DFW to Morelia and Zacatecas later this summer, once International Terminal D is opened. In addition, American Airlines and American Eagle will reach a record level of operations at DFW this summer, with American Eagle starting 9 new domestic routes between now and August. Adding to the growth, US Airways and Northwest Airlines are each planning new service from DFW to Washington D.C. and Indianapolis, respectively. 

All that new service is based on consumer demand and low fares to many of DFW’s most popular destinations. For example, Frontier Airlines has a published round-trip fare to Denver for $211, AirTran Airways has published one-way fares to Baltimore for $136, Atlanta for $114, and Orlando for $111. American Airlines has published a oneway fare to 5 different Los Angeles airports for $104, and a round-trip fare of $226 to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. American is also matching many fares to the Airport’s most traveled gateway cities including Las Vegas and Orlando. All published fares are subject to availability. 

As part of the kickoff to the summer travel season, DFW will once again launch its Holiday Helpers program today. The Holiday Helpers program, created following the events of 9/11, is made up of DFW volunteer employees and Airport Ambassadors who distribute thank you gifts to travelers and provide entertainment during busy holiday travel periods. This year, patriotic-themed entertainers will stroll the terminals, including Uncle Sam on stilts and a modern version of The Andrews Sisters.