Bag scanning goes high tech

Airport boosts baggage claim area for winter season

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— Travelers moving through Yampa Valley Regional Airport this ski season will encounter temporary improvements to the baggage claim area that could relieve congestion.

"I think it's going to make a huge difference, even if it's on an interim basis," said Mike Forney, chairman of the Yampa Valley Airport Commission.

Airport Manager David Ruppel told the commission Nov. 8 that a temporary system of luggage belts will serve commuter flights this winter, dispersing passengers waiting for their bags at peak times.

The new commuter luggage system will be built in the former passenger check-in area, which was replaced last year. Ultimately, that space will be topped with a second floor, and a more permanent baggage carousel will be installed, Ruppel said.

For this winter, two conveyor belts will be reinstalled in the southeast corner of the old ticket lobby, Ruppel said. Passengers will not pull their own bags off the belts. Instead, Forney said, airport passenger service personnel will remove them and line them up on the floor. That step is necessary because the temporary belts do not make a continuous loop.

Ruppel said the removal of several walls has made the larger baggage claim area much more open.

Forney said relocation of several service counters also would reduce passenger congestion. The service desk for ground transportation, the Chamber Resort Association information counter and the lost luggage desk are moving out of the primary luggage claim area into the old passenger check-in area.

Remodeling of that space is tentatively scheduled to go forward with contractor bidding in 2008 and completion in 2009.

Ruppel also reported that Transportation Safety Administration personnel have completed initial training on the new CT-80 automated explosives detection system. The new equipment can handle about 130 bags an hour, he said.

The airport faced challenges last winter processing large volumes of luggage within 90 minutes of departure times, Ruppel said. This year, during peak times, passengers will be advised to arrive two hours before flight time. Combined with the new scanning equipment, passenger processing should improve, Ruppel predicted. Passengers still will be told to arrive 90 minutes early for non-peak flights.

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