Sponsor extension sought for checkpoint improvements at Charlotte Douglas

Checkpoint E at Charlotte Douglas International Airport has had a gentler, more soothing face since October, when a hotel-sponsored upgrade installed couches, a “recomposure area” for travelers to get their shoes back on and stuff together, and new video screens.

The program is part of a pilot between Charlotte Douglas and checkpoint advertising firm SecurityPoint Media.

But SpringHill Suites by Marriott, the checkpoint’s sponsor, recently pulled the plug on a similar, upgraded checkpoint it was funding at Dallas/Fort Worth.

Joe Ambrefe, SecurityPoint CEO, said SpringHill is signed on to sponsor the Charlotte Douglas checkpoint through the end of the month. The original contract ran through December, and Ambrefe said SpringHill has renewed several times. But he said SecurityPoint is looking for other sponsors in case they don’t renew.

“Right now, clearly, Springhill is the sponsor,” said Ambrefe. “But what we’re aiming to do is continue to work with Charlotte for different options on when we reach that point. Hopefully, SpringHill continues.”

Charlotte Douglas spokespeople didn’t return messages Friday.

At Dallas/Fort Worth, some of the new amenities, such as the nicer furniture, have been removed since SpringHill pulled out, according to media reports. The upgrades at Dallas/Fort Worth were more extensive than those at Charlotte Douglas, and included technology to display accurate wait times as travelers move through lines.

The airport is seeking a new sponsor. There are practical benefits besides a better passenger experience: Security lines went 25 percent faster at Dallas/Fort Worth’s upgraded checkpoint.

SpringHill’s sponsorship for Charlotte Douglas and Dallas/Fort Worth cost the company about $500,000. The company placed large advertising at both airports.

At dozens of airports, SecurityPoint provides the trays travelers put their shoes and other belongings into for screening at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints. The company sells advertising that appears in the trays.

SecurityPoint’s idea for turning security checkpoints into something more akin to a hotel lobby offers another revenue stream for the company. For airports, nicer, faster checkpoints offer the chance that passengers who are less stressed out might spend more on concessions.