In an age where touchless is preferred for a number of reasons, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) teams at Tampa International Airport and Baltimore/Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport are now using new credential authentication technology both to improve checkpoint screening capabilities and the passenger experience.
Tampa International Airport has nine credential authentication technology (CAT) units in operation, and Baltimore/Washington has 14.
Travelers insert their ID in the CAT unit, and the unit scans the ID and informs the officer whether the ID is valid. In most cases, travelers who approach the TSA travel document checking podium do not have to show their boarding pass because the CAT unit verifies that the traveler is ticketed to travel out of the airport for a flight that day; however, one may be requested for travelers under the age of 18 and/or those with ID issues. Even with TSA’s use of CAT, travelers still need to check-in with their airline in advance and bring their boarding pass to their gate agent to show the airline representative before boarding their flight.
CAT units authenticate several thousand types of IDs including passports, military common access cards, retired military ID cards, Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler ID cards, uniformed services ID cards, permanent resident cards, U.S. visas and driver’s licenses and photo IDs issued by state motor vehicle departments.
A CAT unit consists of the passport reader, an ID card reader, a Federal personal identity verification ID card reader, a monitor, a stand and a UV light. Each unit costs a little less than $30,000.
It is critical that travelers have their REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other acceptable form of identification by the October 1, 2021, deadline. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license after that date, if it is not REAL ID-compliant.
This story was updated on August 12 to include the Baltimore/Washington announcement.