New TSA 'Document Verification' May Speed Up Airport Security Lines

When you arrive at your airport security checkpoint, a TSA officer examines your driver’s license with a black light, magnifying glass or sometimes a long look. Not very scientific, but that’s already changing.

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Airports Using the New Technology

New technology in the form of ID/boarding pass scanners is already being used at Washington’s Dulles International (IAD) and will be put to work at Houston’s Hobby (IAH) on April 17. The scanner will also start verification at Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin International (SJU) in San Juan beginning April 23. If testing is deemed successful, you can expect to find more of these gizmos in other airports later this year.

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How New Scanners Work

According the Transportation Security Administration website, the scanners – which go by the unwieldy monicker, Credential Authentication Technology/Boarding Pass Scanning Systems – will “scan a passenger’s boarding pass and photo ID, and then automatically verify the names provided on both documents match and authenticate the boarding pass.”

Scanners Detect Fake IDs

The technology also identifies fake photo IDs by analyzing security features embedded in those cards. As USA Today reports, if altered IDs are found, the owner will be referred to law enforcement officials – which could in turn lead to possible charges (not to mention a delay and possible missed flight).

Like a Supermarket Scanner

If no fraud or other anomaly is detected, the machines could mean a quicker security experience for many passengers. It has been likened to scanning prices at a supermarket – a quick run under the bar code reader, and you’re on your way. This may only save a matter of seconds, but as anyone racing to make a flight knows, at the airport – especially in the security line – a few seconds here and there can matter.

Note to Paperless Boarding Pass Flyers and Young Travelers

As of last month, passengers who wish to download boarding passes on smartphones, iPads and other personal electronic devices have been able to present these paperless passes for scrutiny at TSA checkpoints in more than 100 airports (see the complete list here). However, these passengers will still be required to have IDs screened for verification at the few checkpoints currently using this technology.

Note about young flyers: Passengers aged 17 and under do not have present an ID at the airport.


Published: April 16, 2012