TSA hires four-legged agent to sniff out explosives, cut waiting times at MSP

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More than 25 million passengers will be flying somewhere over the Thanksgiving holiday, and a new security measure will be in place in time for one of the busiest periods of the year for Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

This security measure answers to the name "D'atri," and is a black labrador retriever who has been enlisted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to sniff for explosives along security checkpoint lines.

The Star Tribune reports that D'atri – named after a firefighter who lost his life in 9/11 – started his assignment at MSP this week, just in time for the holiday season. His addition is designed to boost passenger screening amid some criticism leveled at the TSA over its security procedures.

The newspaper notes that a Department of Homeland Security report found TSA staffers failed 67 out of 70 covert security tests it conducted.

KSTP reports that D'atri's work at MSP is not aimed at security, but also making the security process speedier for passengers.

In the wake of the DHS report, TSA stopped allowing passengers go through its pre-check line without being pre-approved, removing an opportunity for some lucky passengers to bypass the lines through regular security.

But if a passenger at MSP has been sniffed over by D'atri, then there's a good chance they will be allowed to go through the pre-checked TSA line and avoid a lengthy queue.

MSP is making major changes to its security checkpoints, that should be in place by February, reducing the four checkpoints currently in place in Terminal 1 to two, larger checkpoints, as reported earlier this month.

This will see the existing, six-lane checkpoint at the south end of the terminal joined by a new, 10-lane checkpoint at the north end.

A forecast from Airlines for America estimates that 25.3 million passengers will travel by plane between Nov. 20 and Dec. 3, a predicted 3 percent rise on 2014, the Texas Star Telegram reports.

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