TSA ready to strengthen security with new baggage handling system at AUS

AUSTIN (KXAN) Below the Barbara Jordan Terminal, hundreds of bags and suitcases are searched each hour.

Longtime TSA agent Louise Yates has worked in one of these bag screening rooms at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

“I started with TSA in 2002 because of what had happened on 9/11,” she said. “I wanted to play a part in making people safe.”

The TSA said it typically takes about five minutes for a bag dropped off at the ticket counter to get loaded up on the tarmac.

Unless it’s flagged within its X-ray security system. Then it’s thoroughly searched by Yates and her team.

“We do our best and we want the best,” she explained. “To ensure that when our families fly, we know they are safe coming through Austin.”

Calvin McDowell leads this team of TSA agents.

“We’ll see bottles, glasses, ketchup, books, magazines, shoes and lots of laptops,” he said.

On average, the TSA system sees almost 1,800 bags per hour at AUS.

McDowell said every item is checked, before being placed on planes.

“If something dangerous gets on an airplane and causes that airplane to go down, it’s a very big responsibility for us,” he said.

TSA agent Louise Yates searches through hundreds of bags and suitcases before they’re placed on planes at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Over the last year, the airport has been building a new outbound baggage system.

AUS Spokeswoman Elizabeth Ferrer said it’s designed to replace the current 20-year-old system.

“What you’re seeing at the airport right now is all of the conveyor systems being installed all around our current working baggage handling system,” she said.

Once it’s done, the new system will be able to process 4,000 bags an hour — more than twice what it can currently.

“That’s going to ensure that security processes are done faster and that your bags leave with you,” Ferrer concluded.

The airport said the new outbound baggage handling system will be complete by June of 2024.

To learn more about the Journey With AUS improvement program, click here.

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