Omaha Airport Moves Screening Equipment out of Passengers' View

Screening equipment that now sits in front of the Northwest Airlines ticket counter will be moved to a back room Monday. Beginning Tuesday, screeners for the Transportation Security Administration handling that airline's bags will work out of view of passengers.

The same change eventually might be made at all airline ticket counters at Eppley, said Don Smithey, executive director of the Omaha Airport Authority.

Northwest and Eppley officials requested the change, he said. TSA's federal security director for Omaha said the agency has no preference about where bag screening is performed.

"It clears the operation out from in front of the ticket counter," said Mike Kudlacz, the security director.

"It just depends on where you can locate it without disrupting the airline operations."

Kudlacz said he doesn't expect the change to make much of a difference to passengers, nor does he expect it to change the amount of time passengers need to check in. Screening takes an average of one to two minutes per bag at Eppley, he said.

Not all passengers make a point of watching TSA staff screen or search their bags, he said. Those checking in at the curb leave bags with sky caps, who deliver them to screeners.

Some airports have screening areas in their lobbies but away from ticket counters or completely behind the scenes, he said.

"Every airport is different," Kudlacz said. "As they're fond of saying, if you've seen one airport, you've seen one airport."

Eppley's lobby stretches the length of the terminal building and is lined by ticket counters at the back wall. Scanning areas in front of the ticket counters take up much of the lobby's depth.

TSA placed scanning equipment in front of the Eppley ticket counters because "initially there was no place else to go with it," Kudlacz said.

Some remodeling would be needed in the back room if all screening areas are moved there.

For now, the change will require TSA supervisors to adjust as they oversee screeners working in the lobby and in the back room.

"It's going to be a challenge for the supervisor to keep track of what's going on in both locations," Kudlacz said. "They'll have to be moving frequently."

Security cameras also will be used. The cameras will record and will be monitored via a video screen, he said.