If you’ve been through an airport security checkpoint, you know the hassle of juggling your ID, boarding pass, phone (watching for flight updates), carry-on bag and personal items while guzzling down your wattle bottle before reaching the front of the line for security screening.
You’ll also know the importance and urgency of having your ID and boarding pass in hand, while simultaneously readying to take off your shoes, empty your pockets, remove all metal, and have your electronic devices out of your bag, inside a bin and on a conveyor belt mere seconds later.
Fortunately, soon enough, you won’t need to scramble to present your paper boarding pass or get your phone display unlocked and QR code pulled up as a screening officer stares at you impatiently.
That’s because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing its Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) in airports all around the country. The new system, which TSA calls a “security game changer”, is already in place in over 100 airports across the nation.
CAT can confirm a passenger’s identity, verify their flight information and check their pre-screening status—all in “near” real-time—simply by scanning their ID. The system is electronically linked to the Secure Flight database, which references passengers’ flight details, making sure they’re ticketed for same-day travel, and pulling up their pre-screening status (e.g., TSA PreCheck), without the need to present a boarding pass.
Air travelers will still need to check in for their flight with the airline and obtain a boarding pass, as they’ll still need to present it to the gate agent in order to board their plane.
And, obviously, passengers 18 and older still need to present their government-issued, valid form of ID, such as a driver’s license, U.S. passport or Permanent Resident Card. There are many other forms of ID that CAT is able to accept, including Trusted Traveler documents like Global Entry, SENTRI, FAST ID and NEXUS cards; as well as Border Crossing Cards, U.S. Department of Defense IDs, U.S. Merchant Mariner IDs and more.
The TSA maintains an updated and complete list of the airports that are already equipped with CAT systems, where flyers can expect to encounter a faster and more streamlined security-check experience. Given the long lines and potential delays that travelers are facing at airports this summer, as Americans return to the skies in droves, any improvements in expediency are sure to be appreciated.
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