Travelers at dozens of airports across the country will no longer have to show their boarding passes to Transportation Security Administration agents thanks to new technology. The Credential Authentication Technology, or CAT, at checkpoints, validates a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real-time.
TSA has CAT units at 119 airports across the country. JFK International Airport has 22 CAT units in use. LaGuardia Airport has 18 of them in operation.
“The credential authentication technology units improve upon TSA’s capabilities to detect and identify fraudulent identification documents such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increase efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” said John Bambury, TSA’s Federal Security Director for JFK International Airport in a release.
How CAT Works
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 some locations, passengers can insert their ID into the units themselves. In most cases, travelers do not have to show their boarding pass because the CAT unit verifies that the traveler is prescreened for a flight that day. Travelers under 18 and/or those with ID issues may be asked to show one.
This does not mean you don’t have to check in with your airline. You still need to check in to your flight and bring your boarding pass to your gate agent to show before boarding your flight.
“In addition to enhancing detection capabilities for identifying fake IDs, the credential system is able to confirm a passenger’s flight status in near real-time through a secured connection,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s Federal Security Director for LaGuardia Airport in a release.
A CAT 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. Each unit costs a little less than $30,000.
Acceptable Forms Of ID
CAT units can scan 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, driver’s licenses, and photo IDs issued by state motor vehicle departments.
It is important to note, by May 3, 2023, you must have your real ID-compliant driver’s license or other acceptable forms of ID. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license if it is not ID-compliant.