BILLINGS, Montana – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today began screening travelers at a relocated security checkpoint at Billings Logan International Airport (BIL). The new checkpoint on the second floor of the terminal is part of a five-phase, multi-year terminal expansion project being implemented at BIL.
With the opening of the BIL checkpoint, travelers will be screened through a three-lane security checkpoint with a dedicated entrance on the left for TSA PreCheck®-eligible travelers. The new checkpoint is more spacious, features updated queues and the latest security screening technology. With a view to future growth, the checkpoint can be expanded to include a fourth control lane.
“TSA is pleased to screen travelers through a new security checkpoint at BIL that features increased capacity and the latest technologies. The revised design positions us to deliver the most efficient screening experience in the most effective manner,” said David Durgan, Acting Director of Federal Security for Montana for the TSA. “We are grateful for the strong partnership we have with the airport community that made today possible.”
Overnight, airport and TSA officials worked together to move dozens of security screening devices to the new checkpoint. As of 4am today, all passenger and carry-on baggage screening has been completed by TSA at the new location.
As part of the renovation, TSA installed three new computed tomography (CT) scanners at the security checkpoint to screen travelers’ personal carry-on bags. The CT scanner offers advanced explosives detection capabilities by applying a sophisticated algorithm to generate a 3-D image of the contents of the carry-on baggage. A security officer can manipulate the 3-D X-ray image on the screen to provide a better view of the contents of the baggage, ultimately reducing the number of baggage screenings required.
When a carry-on is screened by a CT scanner, travelers can leave everything in their carry-on, including travel-size electronics and liquids. Another feature of the CT scanner system is that each piece of carry-on baggage must be placed in a bin for inspection.
The opening to the X-ray tunnel of a CT scanner is slightly smaller than that of a conventional X-ray machine. TSA advises travelers not to force large items into the tunnel and instead seek assistance from a TSA officer. TSA also strongly recommends that larger carry-on bags be checked with the airline before going through security
In addition to the CT scanners, TSA has two Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units at BIL. CAT units are programmed to confirm the validity of a traveler’s photo ID and real-time flight information by matching the passenger’s biographical information from the photo ID to the Secure Flight database.
When travelers approach the travel document verification podium and CAT is being used, they must either insert their own photo ID into the CAT unit or present their photo ID to the TSA officer. No boarding pass is required at this time as the Secure Flight database contains the names and flight details of people booked for the next 24 hours. CAT units are designed to identify fraudulent and tampered with documents.
Other security technologies at the BIL checkpoint include a body scanner, also known as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). It scans travelers for metallic and non-metallic items that may be hidden in layers of clothing and pose a safety threat on an airplane. There are also two walk-in metal detectors, pocket search stations, a private screening area, explosives tracers and a bottled liquid scanner, which is used to screen medically necessary liquids in quantities greater than 100 ml.
Security Checks opens at 4:00 am daily and stays open until 6:00 pm or until the last flight of the day departs, whichever is later. On average, the TSA currently screens around 32,000 departing travelers with BIL each month.
Travel tips for the BIL
Nationally, the TSA screens an average of 2.21 million people per day at airports across the country in October. That’s an 11% increase from last year’s volume, but still below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, when the TSA screened an average of about 2.39 million people a day in October. TSA anticipates increased travel volume leading into the traditional Thanksgiving and holiday season at the end of the year.
In general, the busiest days are Thursdays and Fridays, and Sundays and Mondays. The busiest times of the day at BIL are in the morning from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. The departure schedules are determined by the airlines. When there is a concentrated number of departures in a short period of time, the security checkpoint is busiest. It is therefore important to arrive early and well prepared.
Here are some helpful tips for navigating security at any airport:
- When you’re in a checkpoint line, use the time wisely. Remove items from bags, such as wallets, money clips, coins, keys, and cell phones, and place them in carry-on bags instead of throwing items from bags straight into bins. It’s also the best time to have your photo ID ready before heading to the podium for travel document verification.
- Knowing what fits and doesn’t fit in a carry-on bag, from firearms to oversized liquids. Prohibited items will result in bag searches and delays at checkpoints. Not sure whether to pack an item in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, or both, or both? Download the free myTSA app, which includes a handy “What can I bring?” app. Function that allows you to type in an item’s name to find out if it can fly. You can also reach out via Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA.
- Sign up for TSA PreCheck. The popular expedited screening program allows travelers to put on their shoes, jackets and belts and store their electronics and 3-1-1 bags in their carry-on baggage in any screening lane at any airport. Because of these benefits, TSA PreCheck lanes move the fastest. There is a registration center in Billings, 3414 1st Avenue N. It is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Begin the registration process online at www.tsa.gov/precheck.
- Get answers on trips with medication or special circumstances. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares toll-free line at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to their flight with questions about screening policies and procedures and to find out what they are doing at the airport Expected to arrange security checkpoint and assistance at checkpoint.