United Airlines opens up automated screening at Chicago O’Hare Airport

Travel News 17 Nov 2016

United becomes the first U.S.-based airline to open automated screening lanes at multiple airports.

United Airlines further modernized the airport security experience by becoming the first U.S.-based carrier to feature state-of-the-art, automated screening lanes at multiple airports with the opening of its fully redesigned TSA Precheck security checkpoint in Terminal 1 at the airline's hometown hub of Chicago O'Hare. Additionally, United becomes the first and only airline in the country to exclusively dedicate automated lanes to a TSA Precheck security checkpoint, continuing to increase efficiency and improve the screening experience for its customers.

The new lanes enable up to five customers to fill their individual bins simultaneously and move through the screening process quicker, even if TSA agents need to perform additional screening on a customer further up the queue. The lanes also utilize a parallel conveyor system that automatically returns empty.

The opening of the newly redesigned security checkpoint and three automated screening lanes at O'Hare marks the latest step in United's ongoing strategy to use the latest technology to ensure customers have a reliable experience during their travels. Last month, the airline launched automated screening lanes at its hub in Los Angeles and expects to open automated lanes at Newark Liberty International Airport, the airline's premier Trans-Atlantic gateway, before Thanksgiving. When United, in collaboration with the TSA, completes the installation, the newly centralized security checkpoint at Terminal C in Newark Liberty will feature 17 automated lanes.

In addition to installing automated screening lanes, United is building and redesigning checkpoints at several hubs throughout the airline's network that will dramatically improve the customer experience. Key initiatives include:

Installing audio and visual enhancements utilizing cutting-edge technology in the security queuing area to provide customers with more information.

  • Consolidating four checkpoints into one new, centralized checkpoint at Newark Liberty.
  • Redesigning security checkpoints at Chicago O'Hare.
  • Constructing a new, state-of-the-art customer check-in area and a consolidated security screening checkpoint in Terminal 7 at Los Angeles International Airport.

‘Basic Economy’ Fare

United Airlines is to offer a ‘basic economy’ fare as its battle with low-cost airlines intensifies.

Travellers who choose the new fare will be assigned seats on the day of departure, assigned to boarding group five and permitted to only one carry-on item that must "fit under the seat".

The airline has warned couples and families that there is “no opportunity to change” the allocated seat.

United, one of the world’s largest airlines, said the changes are in response to passenger demand.

Rival US airlines American and Delta already offer similar ‘basic’ fares but United goes further by cutting the carry-on allowance to mirror that of US low cost rivals such as Spirit. Only one “personal item,” measuring 22x25x43cm, is allowed on board. Basic Economy passengers can check in additional bags, starting at $25 (£20) for the first case.

The new fare was part of a range of announcements from United, which expects to unlock $4.8 billion in value by 2020 with earnings initiatives, updates to aircraft orders and reducing capital expenditures by around $1 billion by 2017-18.

The basic economy fares are expected to go on sale for domestic flights early next year.