Transportation Security Administration officers at Richmond International, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports, are now using new technology that confirms the validity of a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real time.
TSA has five credential authentication technology (CAT) units in use at Richmond.
“This technology enhances detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport. “The system will also confirm the passenger’s flight status in near real time through a secured connection.”
TSA at JFK International Airport has 22 credential authentication technology (CAT) units in use and LaGuardia Airport has 18 of them in operation.
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. Each unit costs a little less than $30,000.
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.
This story was updated July 27 following TSA’s announcement of the CAT rollout at JFK and LaGuardia.