A TSA officer at Philadelphia International Airport uses the CAT unit. TSA photo

TSA Now Using Credential Authentication Technology at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh International Airports

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Philadelphia International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport are now using the new technology that validates a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real time.

TSA has 16 credential authentication technology (CAT) units in use at Philadelphia and four at Pittsburgh.  

The technology has been designed to enhance detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents at the security checkpoint. The system also is able to confirm the passenger’s flight status in near real time through a secured connection. Overall it increases efficiency at the checkpoint.

When a traveler hands the TSA officer their ID, the officer places it in the CAT unit, which scans the ID and informs the TSA 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 prescreened 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.

In addition, it is critical that travelers have their REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other acceptable form of identification by the Oct. 1, 2021, deadline. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license after Oct. 1, 2021, if it is not REAL ID-compliant.

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