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TSA changes at Durango airport cause slight delays

Familiarity with new screening rules expected to reduce wait times

Recent changes in airport security screening procedures hit Durango this week. After some initial day delays, Tony Vicari, aviation director at Durango-La Plata County Airport, expects the flow at security checks to be more efficient during the Christmas travel season.

Vicari also said 66 added parking spaces in the overflow lot fixed the parking shortage that hit the airport during the Thanksgiving 2016 travel season. Also, he said 50 additional paved parking spaces are expected to be in place in the credit card parking lot in the spring.

“Nationwide, we expect to be busy, but we don’t expect anything operationally out of the ordinary here,” Vicari said of the Christmastime travel season. During the Thanksgiving 10-day travel period this year, Vicari said the airport had adequate parking spaces to meet demand.

On Tuesday, Durango’s airport began implementing a nationwide procedure to give greater scrutiny to electronic devices bigger than a cellphone in carry-on bags. Vicari said the airport experienced about half-hour delays on Tuesday.

But he said he expects delays to be shorter as customers and Transportation Security Administration employees become more familiar with new procedures.

Carrie Harmon, a spokeswoman with the TSA, said greater scrutiny of electronic devices in carry-on bags was first announced during the summer of 2016, and she expects the procedures to be fully implemented in the Durango-La Plata County Airport by Sunday.

She said passengers are being asked to remove electronics larger than a cellphone from carry-on bags and place them in bins for inspection, similar to the way laptops have been handled for years.

In addition, she said TSA officers may ask passengers to remove other select items, including food, from carry-on bags.

She said delays of up to 35 minutes were experienced Tuesday in Durango, but staff brought wait times down to 10 minutes within an hour. Also, delays hit 15 minutes on Wednesday, she said.

Additional staff was brought in this week to handle the security screening changes, Harmon said.

Both Vicari and Harmon recommended passengers arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before their flight to ensure adequate time for check-in and security screening.

Harmon recommended passengers arrive two hours before flights at large metropolitan airports.


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