Reno/Tahoe airport announces baggage screening changes |

Reno/Tahoe airport announces baggage screening changes

Sweeping changes in the way bags are screened at Reno/Tahoe International Airport will take effect by a Dec. 31 federal deadline, airport officials say.

The screening system, to be anchored by seven machines that scan baggage, could mean longer lines. It’s part of a federal mandate to comply with laws that tighten security at major airports nationwide since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Now, carry-on bags are screened before being taken on an aircraft.

The machines designed to detect explosives, however, may not arrive in time, forcing the Washoe County Airport Authority to consider a temporary system that may use a different method of screening the baggage, spokesman Adam Mayberry said.

The authority will know in a few weeks if the devices will be arriving on time. If not, bomb-sniffing dogs are an option.

Either way, Mayberry anticipates the machines will take up a lot of room in the terminal area. Airport officials are considering putting up a canopy with a heating system to provide shelter for those standing in line.

“We expect to have people waiting outside,” he said.

Recently, a misconception has been circulating nationally about airports receiving waivers from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

The department was created upon passage of the Aviation Security Act in Congress a year ago.

Mayberry contends the provision in the federal law only applies to the installation of the explosive detection systems, not the screening of check-in baggage.

Federal screeners have been put in place at the Reno airport, one of 424 across the nation to receive the 47,000 people assigned to handle security.

They replace a private work force often criticized as inefficient and poorly trained.

The shift in management has provided a few bumps in the road, but overall the system appears to be working, Mayberry said.

“There are growing pains. But it’s primarily a perception out there that it’s a negative experience,” he said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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