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U.S. Travelers Will See This New Technology At Airports To Speed Up TSA Lines

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This year the TSA is adding new technology to their security checks which will help alleviate some of the travel headaches passengers are experiencing this summer. The most significant improvement comes with the introduction of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) scanners.

TSA Lines in Denver Airport

CAT scanners will help speed up TSA lines by eliminating the need to present boarding passes to TSA personnel. The scanners can match a traveler’s ID with their upcoming flight information, meaning passengers will no longer have to fumble through their pockets to locate their boarding pass when approaching the security line.

Crowd waiting in line for security at airport

While this may not seem like an extremely significant time-saver, the seconds can add up when lines are substantial. Suppose a line of 100 people saves just ten seconds each on average. In that case, that’s a difference of almost seventeen minutes for the 101st person in line. When running late for a flight, seventeen minutes can be the difference between making it or not.

American Airlines Aircraft Parked At Chicago O Hare International Airport, United States

The TSA had deployed 1,621 scanners to 176 airports as of May 10th and is continuing the expansion of the scanners to additional airports. Of the scanners in the field, 90 have the full capability of reading and verifying IDs, with more upgrades incoming. The TSA plans to roll out the technology nationwide to ease the security process for passengers and security personnel, meaning they aren’t only focusing on larger airports. Just recently, the TSA added three CAT scanners at Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming. More popular airports such as Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport have all begun using the technology as well, meaning that those traveling internationally will also be able to take advantage of the scanners.

TSA Check In station

The scanners are connected to the Secure Flight Database, which contains information on travelers and their flight details for travel expected within the next 24 hours. When approaching the podium for document checking, travelers will either give their ID to the TSA officer or insert their ID into the CAT scanner themselves. The scanner will automatically find the flight details of the traveler, eliminating the need for presenting a boarding pass. The scanners can also spot fraudulent documents, adding an extra security measure to the document check station.

Forms of ID usable at the CAT scanners are plentiful, with passports, permanent resident cards, driver’s licenses, and many others being accepted. A complete list of acceptable IDs can be found on the TSA website. It should be noted that the CAT scanners only eliminate the need for a boarding pass at the security gate and that passengers may still need a boarding pass when checking in at the gate with their airline.

Luggage entering scanner

Along with the CAT scanners, the TSA has also been rolling out enhanced Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, improving the scanning capabilities for luggage brought through security, such as carry-on bags and laptop bags. The new scanners will render a 3D image of bags for TSA officers to review, leading to a reduced need to physically search the content of a bag. This is excellent news for travelers who have been held up due to their bag being pulled aside for an inconvenient unpacking party.

TSA agent grabbing a bag to inspect at airport security

Other notable technology improvements that will help improve travelers’ experiences through airport security include digital ID acceptance via the Apple Wallet app and American Airline’s Airside Digital Identity App. In the case of Apple, the mobile ID partnership with the TSA officially began on March 23rd in Arizona at the Phoenix International Airport. Users can take advantage of the technology by scanning their ID into the Apple Wallet App and taking a selfie. This information is then sent to the issuing state to be verified. After approval, users can tap their devices at CAT scanners for ID verification. In the case of American Airlines, the tech isn’t quite as accessible as it requires a frequent flier account and TSA PreCheck to be used. If passengers fit these criteria, they can follow a similar process as the one laid out above for Apple through the Airside Digital Identity App and use this for ID verification with the TSA.

Passenger Using Digital ID at security

Any technology that helps speed up airport security is a welcome addition. However, there is still room for improvement. Digital IDs are likely to become more commonplace and accessible, and additional CAT and CT scanners will continue to be installed and utilized in more and more airports. Travelers able to take advantage of these improvements will undoubtedly appreciate the time saved.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


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