Bob Hope Airport opens speedier lane for frequent travelers

Frequent fliers traveling through Bob Hope Airport can now expect an even quicker passage to their gates during certain times of the day.

With cooperation from the Transportation Security Administration and funding from Southwest Airlines, the airfield is using an “Experienced Travelers” lane in Terminal A for frequent fliers during peak hours, usually from 6 to 7 a.m. daily.

The airport began using an existing lane exclusively for frequent fliers on Feb. 5, said Denis Carvill, a deputy executive director at the airport

Airport officials will monitor its use over the next three months, he added.

“We have these high volume periods of time during the day when the lines get backed up a little bit,” Carvill said. “During those times, Southwest will actually have somebody monitor who goes down this lane.”

Carvill said that the frequent flier designation is handled by the airlines. For example, Southwest's A-List program is set up for passengers who take more than 25 flights a year or meet a certain number of points.

“Southwest told me they have a higher number of frequent fliers in Burbank than in any other airport in the nation,” Carvill said.

The priority lane will be used during the morning rush hour, which is caused by the airport's voluntary curfew of no flights from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., said airport spokesman Victor Gill. Airlines often kick off their schedules right at 7 a.m., so that there's a rush of flights — and passengers — around that time.

Gill said TSA employees have reported that wait times during the 6-to-7 a.m. rush hour average 13 minutes in Terminal A, and only seven minutes in Terminal B, except when unusual circumstances occur such as a screening machine malfunction.

Gill said Terminal B gets hit with another rush from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., when wait times average 12 minutes.

During non-peak hours, wait times in both terminals average five minutes, which is a major selling point for the airport, Gill said.

“It doesn't hold a candle [to other airports], and that's one of our competitive advantages,” Gill said. “That's why [passengers] come here. It's, generally speaking, a very quick trip through the security checkpoint.”

Gill said the priority lane was created mostly to accommodate desires by Southwest, US Airways and JetBlue to provide a service for their frequent customers.

The new lane has been a success, said Southwest spokeswoman Rhonda Ramirez in a statement. She declined, however, to say how many of the airline's frequent fliers come through the airport.

“Our customers have been extremely responsive to the lane, providing positive feedback on the added benefit,” Ramirez said.


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