COVID-19 News

New York airport uses new TSA tech to reduce COVID-19 risk for ID screening

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is using new technology to confirm the validity of travelers’ identification and verify their flight information, reducing the risk of COVID-19 for TSA screeners and travelers.

Syracuse Hancock International Airport passengers must insert their ID directly into a scanner, eliminating the need for a TSA officer to touch the ID and thus helping in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, the TSA said.

The new system will then verify the authenticity of the ID and confirm that the traveler is scheduled to fly out of the airport that day. Fake or out-of-date IDs are flagged on a monitor.

Passengers do not have to hand over their boarding pass (electronic or paper), eliminating another “touchpoint,” the TSA said.

However, a boarding pass may be requested for travelers under the age of 18 or those whose IDs cannot be verified by the system, the agency said. And travelers will still need to check in with their airline in advance and show their boarding pass at the gate before boarding their flight, it said.

The technology “enhances detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent ID such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” said Bart R. Johnson , TSA’s federal security director for Upstate New York. “The system also has the added capability of confirming the passenger’s flight status in near real time through a secured connection.”

The TSA calls its new system a credential authentication technology (CAT) unit. It said the system can 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.

The unit consists of a passport reader, an ID card reader, a federal personal identity verification ID card reader, a monitor, a stand and a UV light.

The TSA said the unit will not eliminate the need for travelers to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other acceptable form of identification by the Oct. 1, 2021, deadline. The unit will not accept a driver’s license after that date if it is not REAL ID-compliant, the agency said.

The REAL-ID deadline was originally Oct. 2, 2020, but the deadline was delayed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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