New baggage system opens at MIA

MIA moves 30,000-40,000 bags per day

MIAMI – A new multimillion-dollar baggage system is now open at Miami International Airport, and demolition has begun on the old shed.

The biggest phase of MIA's $2.9 billion North Terminal has been handled.

"You're talking a fully automated system from the ticket counter to the aircraft. It gets screened for explosives and delivered to your gate," said MIA Communications Director Greg Chin.

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A labyrinth of conveyor belts stretches a total of 14 miles through the airport. The system can handle 6,000 bags per hour, and currently moves 30,000 to 40,000 bags per day.

The fully automated baggage handling system cost $220 million, but it has already processed more than 3 million bags and been handed over to American Airlines. Also, the demolition of MIA's old baggage shed makes room for three more gates.

The old facility has been in operation for 20 years and was not only outdated, but it was in the way.

"This is about 100,000 square feet of space and a lot of metal," Chin said.

Now, American's new linear gates are more productive than the old bicycle hub and spoke design.

"Flights are able to come in and out now like a two-way street with this baggage shed gone," Chin said.

Officials said the new setup will allow American to operate 500 flights per day, rather than 300.