Travelers departing from Juneau Airport next week will find a new, two-lane security checkpoint and shorter lines upstairs, airport officials said.
The new security screening area will replace the current security checkpoint and keep long, winding lines of people away from the stairs, according to airport Manager Allan Heese.
"Instead of going through the screening checkpoint when they get to the top of the escalator, they're going to have to make a (left) turn down to this new area," Heese said during a tour Thursday.
Arriving passengers will exit from the same spot as they do now, creating a circular traffic pattern.
The changes tentatively are scheduled to go into effect at noon Tuesday. The airport plans to reconfigure the entrance to the security area and double the size of new rest rooms inside the departure lounge by Thanksgiving, Heese added.
"It's a work-in-progress," he said. "We still have a long ways to go to make it look like a finished product."
As part of the change, the airport has received two state-of-the-art security screening machines from the new federal Transportation Security Administration. The existing metal detector will move to the new checkpoint, while the old X-ray machine will be used to screen Alaska Airlines cargo, Heese said.
Travelers still need to arrive at the airport two hours before they are scheduled to depart, Alaska Airlines station manager Andy Workman said.
The new screening area is where the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards District Office used to be. That office has moved to Vintage Business Park, Heese said. As part of the move, the airport will reclaim the Taku Room, which had been used as a banquet room. Heese said the airport hasn't decided what to do with the space.
Gordon Gardyko, who was traveling Thursday from Seattle to Wrangell on Alaska Airlines, said he ran into trouble at Juneau's airport after Sept. 11 when he exited the departure lounge to use the rest room and accidentally left his ticket behind.
"I had to get a special dispensation from the pope to get back inside," he said, joking. "Ever since then I've remembered never to leave my bags."
Gardyko said he has experienced long security lines at Juneau Airport, but wonders if the changes are the right solution.
"I'm sure this security is needed, but we seem to overreact and overcompensate after the fact," he said. "We swing back and forth three or four times to come to the right situation."
Juneau resident Ellen Noviski, who was picking up family at the airport on Thursday, said she hasn't waited in long security lines at the airport for her early morning flights. She welcomed the changes.
"It seems like it would make it run a little more smooth," she said. "Then you don't have this congestion of people here waiting and leaving."
The passenger-screening changes should cost between $350,000 and $400,000, with funding from the Transportation Security Administration, city sales tax, the Federal Aviation Administration and the airport's budget, Heese said.
The remodel was suggested by consultants from Lockheed Martin who are analyzing security arrangements at airports nationwide for the TSA, Juneau Airport Security Coordinator and Business Manager Patty deLaBruere said.
In another change, drinks and snacks soon will be available in the departure lounge, she added.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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