New scanner to ease luggage backlog at Juneau airport

The Juneau International Airport

Juneau International Airport is getting a second X-ray machine for luggage to ease a backlog during peak travel times. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Juneau International Airport is getting a second X-ray machine to handle the piles of luggage that build up during the morning air traffic rush hour.

The Transportation Security Administration approved the new scanner after hearing from the Juneau Assembly, airport officials, Alaska Airlines and the state’s Congressional delegation.

Airport Manager Patty deLaBruere says in the past year Alaska Airlines and TSA employees have had trouble moving luggage through the scanner, even when it’s a normal amount.

“What was happening, especially if anyone had come in during those morning bank of flights, in the summer you’d see several hundred bags stacked out in the lobby and it was kind of a mess,” deLaBruere says.

Five early morning flights depart the Juneau airport every day during the summer months, with one leaving roughly every half hour between 7 and 8:30 a.m.

DeLaBruere says the baggage problem has caused delays and was still an issue over the winter, when there are fewer departures. With Delta Air Lines offering flights to and from Juneau this summer, she says it was only going to get worse.

In addition to a second X-ray machine, deLaBruere says TSA agreed to increase staffing at the airport.

“We’ve seen a decrease in the staffing over the last year,” she says. “We don’t have the numbers yet for the staffing, but we did get approval for the scanner and the staffing to go with it.”

TSA officials could not be reached for comment.

DeLaBruere’s not sure when the new scanner will arrive in Juneau. She says the machine will be located in the lobby, near the Alaska Airlines check-in counter.

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