January 29, 2016
By Bakari Savage - Reporter
A new baggage belt system is helping the Transportation Security Administration administer safety at Jacksonville International Airport.
The main purpose of the new baggage screening system is mainly to check for weapons.
The process of traveling with a weapon starts at the ticket counter where you should declare having the item, before taking your luggage to the bag drop.
The wait times to get through security can be long sometimes because of additional safety checks and this is why it is advised to arrive at the airport well within the recommended time.
“I got here today at like an hour and a half before because I didn't want to miss my flight back to Houston,” said Gay Holt, a traveler at JAX.
Another passenger Mike Riccio said, “I usually try to get there between an hour and two hours.”
With more than two million passengers going through security at JAX last year, almost a ton of weapons were taken, of which 25 were guns.
According to airport officials most of the time it’s because passengers forgot what was in their bag and that’s why you’re asked to declare weapons at check-in.
A $19 million upgraded baggage belt system is helping to make sure weapons don’t slip through.
On the other side of ticketing your luggage is put on the conveyor belt, then goes into the system and into a room where the screening takes place. If everything is OK, your luggage then goes straight to your flight.
JAX Spokesperson Debbie Jones explained what happens if the luggage is not deemed OK.
“The bags get directed to another location. That's where the TSA officers will physically screen the bags to ensure the alarm is resolved,” Jones said. “Once that's done the bag is scanned again and then they're directed back to the carousel.”
Jones said the passenger will know if their bag made it to that screening room because a TSA worker will leave a note in the bag. But, if it’s a serious issue, there is a possibility you could miss your flight.
"The delay comes when people who try to carry weapons through with their carry-ons. That's when there can be a significant delay to other passengers," Jones said. “Because that passenger will have to have a meeting with TSA and law enforcement.”
News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith said that’s because once the item is found, TSA works with local law enforcement to first check if the weapon is stolen.
Once everything is sorted out, then you will be able to continue with your trip. A rule of thumb to avoid any unnecessary delays is to check your bags before you pack.