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28Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers passengers. Other technologies have been reviewed in the past, including sharing information from other agencies such as TSA, and the use of passenger tracking tools such as RFID. Transportation Security Administration There was no direct comment from TSA on baggage recheck elimination. However, at an operational level, the study team identified potential issues at a number of flows/cross-flows, as well as space associated with queuing for TSA processes. Case Study 3: San Francisco International Airport Current Processes This section maps the five current passenger and baggage flows at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). International Arrivals/Terminating Passengers The FIS facilities are adjacent to each other to serve "A" and "G" gates in the international terminal. For the purpose of this review, the study team focused on G gates that primarily service Star Alliance (United) flights. All international arriving passengers to SFO deplane and follow a sterile corridor to CBP Pri- mary. SFO is different from ATL and DFW in that the international arrivals area is on one level. All passengers present themselves to CBP for primary processing and are subsequently directed to CBP Secondary or the baggage carousel area. Terminating passengers are responsible for col- lecting their checked baggage (if applicable) and proceeding to the Egress Officer position before exiting to the public area of the terminal. Baggage is unloaded from the international arriving aircraft and loaded onto the appropriate conveyor belt(s) to distribute the bags to the baggage carousels one level above. An overview of this process is provided in Figure 11 with passenger process Steps 1 through 5. To simplify the description of this process, Figure 11 outlines the flow of an international arriving passenger at International G gates. For passengers arriving at the A gates, the flow is a mirror image. International-to-Domestic Connections International-to-domestic connecting passengers (see Figure 12) follow the same path as ter- minating passengers through the CBP Egress officer position, but they use separate exits. After international-to-domestic passengers exit, United Airlines and Star Alliance passengers turn left (other carrier passengers turn right) to approach the United Airlines baggage recheck facility where they place their baggage into the SFO baggage system. Airline staff is present to help pas- sengers address issues such as missed connections, re-booking, or termination of any previously checked baggage. Once the recheck process is complete, passengers follow a public corridor to TSA security screening. United and Star Alliance passengers are typically directed toward the international checkpoint for TSA passenger screening and then follow a secure side corridor to Terminal 3 for domestic connections. International-to-domestic transfer baggage is unloaded from the aircraft (with terminating and other transfer baggage) and loaded onto the appropriate conveyor belt(s) to distribute the bags to the baggage carousels one level above. Once collected by the passenger and re-inducted into the system at the recheck facility, the bag is transported via a high-speed conveyor belt to the
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Airport Case Studies 29 Figure 11. SFO international terminating passenger and bag flow.
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30 Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers Figure 12. SFO international-to-domestic connections passenger and bag flow.
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Airport Case Studies 31 appropriate terminal (typically Terminal 3). Upon arrival at the outbound terminal, the inter- terminal conveyor belt has second priority to originating passengers to enter the TSA X-ray screen- ing matrix. Once screened, the bag is sorted to its appropriate outbound baggage make-up unit. Figure 12 depicts the flow of an internationally arriving United Airlines/Star Alliance pas- senger connecting to a domestic flight from Terminal 3. The process is a mirror image for those arriving at the A gates and connecting to Terminal 1 for a domestic flight, with the exception that a sterile airside corridor does not exist between the A gates and Terminal 1. Several carriers have opted not to utilize the baggage recheck facility provided by the airport because of the incremental costs of staffing positions to serve a select few passengers. Instead, international-to-domestic passengers are required to approach other check-in areas to recheck their baggage alongside other domestic passengers originating in San Francisco. International-to-International Connections The international-to-international connection process is the same as the international-to- domestic process through the recheck process. The only difference is the baggage process. Instead of using a high-speed conveyor to the domestic terminal (1 or 3), bags are directed to the TSA X-ray screening matrix in the international terminal. If cleared by the TSA, the baggage is sorted to the appropriate outbound make-up unit. An overview of the process is provided with passenger process Steps 1 through 6 as well as the corresponding bag processes (see Figure 13). Preclearance Connections SFO has precleared flights arriving to the airport from Canada (e.g., Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto). To meet ATSA requirements, TSA mandates that the bags be delivered for baggage screening. The passenger process is much like a domestic arrival process in that passengers arrive into the terminal building in the departures area and do not proceed to CBP Primary. Passengers departing on domestic flights stay within the same terminal or can exit to the public side and proceed to the other terminal. The specific process for these bags is that they are unloaded from arriving aircraft, fed to an induct conveyor that leads directly to TSA bag screening, and routed to the appropriate baggage make-up carousel. Preferential Connections Process United Airlines has a designated TSA passenger checkpoint, located between the International Terminal and Terminal 3, which services United Preferred passengers (connecting and origi- nating). During peak periods, this United Preferred checkpoint provides an easier connection process for international arriving passengers to connect to domestic flights. Relevance of Eliminating Baggage Recheck Each stakeholder consulted at SFO was asked a series of questions with regard to the relevance of eliminating baggage recheck for international connections. The discussions centered on the operational impact, cost, timing, and benefits of eliminating/reducing baggage recheck. Air Carrier The dominant air carrier operating services to/from SFO is United Airlines, which there- fore has the greatest opportunity to benefit from eliminating or reducing the need for baggage recheck.
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32 Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers Figure 13. SFO international-to-international connections passenger and bag flow.
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Airport Case Studies 33 The dominant connecting market for United Airlines is the international-to-domestic sector rather than the international-to-international market, which is more prominent through LAX. In examining the volumes of connecting passengers in Summer 2010, however, United Airlines reported that there were insufficient volumes to invest in new processes to remove recheck pro- cesses. While not opposed to process improvements, United Airlines gave priority to sites other than SFO. Airport SFO staff also identified the international-to-domestic connections as the market that would generate the greatest benefits should the need for baggage recheck be eliminated. For the airport, the greatest benefits would be realized through improvements to passenger convenience--and their potential to spend more money on retail/concessions if not waiting for baggage. Currently, it is acknowledged that the critical bottleneck in the connection process is wait time at the bag- gage carousels in the international arrivals area, and again at the recheck facility. CBP has proven to effectively staff the more than 70 Primary podium positions to sufficiently manage the queue lengths during the morning peak-hour volumes. The ability to remove onward connecting passengers from the baggage carousel area and the recheck facility would provide significant space savings as well. The opportunity to provide customers (i.e., air carriers) with a facilitated process would help develop the airport as a gateway to/through North America. The airport also acknowl- edged the impact of TSA rescreening of U.S. Preclearance bags as a hindrance to its gateway operations. For the betterment of the airport, reducing or eliminating the need for baggage recheck would have universal air carrier participation due to the volume of connecting nonUnited Airlines passengers (e.g., Virgin Atlantic, British Airways). One factor of concern to the airport is its ability to temporarily store bags in the outbound baggage area (based on the International Baggage Connection Program in DFW). This issue is likely to be a factor for many ports of entry across the United States. Customs and Border Protection The discussion with San Franciscobased CBP officers centered on the international-to- international connections through DFW and ATL for American Airlines and Delta Air Lines passengers, respectively. Unaware of the two programs, SFO CBP highlighted the value of seeing the passenger and baggage interaction as an element of the risk management inspection they undertake with each passenger. CBP also acknowledged the regular queues that form at the international arrivals baggage carousels as passengers wait to retrieve their checked baggage. CBP noted that passengers often misperceived that the baggage delays were the fault of CBP. They also recognized the passen- ger convenience that could be improved through the elimination or reduction of passengers retrieving their baggage. However, this could not occur at a detriment to their risk management provisions. Transportation Security Administration At present, there is a conveyor system to feed baggage directly into the TSA X-ray screening in unit in the international terminal facility.