MISSOULA - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports they screen about 600 checked bags in Missoula every day, and as the airport prepares to open its new terminal next week, the TSA has a whole new security checkpoint.
It’s that time of the year when travelers are ready to take to the skies once again, but there are some changes coming to the Missoula airport -- whether you're planning to check your bag or carry it on.
"We're excited this is definitely going to fit our needs and I know travelers are going to see a difference,” the TSA’s Lorie Dankers told MTN News. "Travelers will be able to leave their electronics larger than a cell phone in their carry-on luggage, as well as their travel size liquids. That's going to save them time, it's going to make the overall security experience faster.”
Dankers gave MTN News a tour of the new security systems at the new terminal, including new conveyor belts and machines. All of the bags will be scanned either at security or after you check your bag.
"Once you check your bag with your ticket agent with the airline at the counter, you won't see your bag again until your destination,” Dankers explained.
Dankers says the system automatically flags for prohibited items, “it reduces the number of security threats because they're able to resolve potential security threats on screen." She also noted similar systems are in place across the state, “we have similar X-Ray scanning in Bozeman, we also do have them in Billings."
Dankers says these upgrades will help meet Missoula's needs for the busy summer travel season. Additionally, Dankers also told MTN News that they are hoping to hire about 15 more TSA agents.
The new terminal will become operational on Wednesday, June 8, just ahead of the busy summer travel season. Many airlines that serve Missoula begin seasonal service in June, including flights to Atlanta, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland.
Demolition of the old west wing of the airport began back in January 2019 and construction followed over the next two years. At a cost of around $67 million, the new terminal includes four gates, room for additional ground boarding, larger passenger rooms, and more amenities, including a bar and restaurant.