Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Rochester airport implements new technology for faster TSA checks. What travelers should know

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TSA announced they are now using new credential authentication technology at the Fredrick Douglas Greater Rochester International Airport.

The new credential authentication technology, or CAT-2, is the latest generation of CAT units that verify travelers’ identities. This new technology now has a camera that captures an in-person photo of the traveler but is said to have all of the same capabilities as the first-generation units. It is designed to scan travelers’ photo identification and confirm their identity and flight details.

According to TSA, the new units include touchless tablets with a camera that compares the in-person photo of the traveler to their photo ID without having to exchange boarding passes. 

According to a press release, travelers can now insert their photo IDs into the CAT-2 units rather than hand them to a TSA security officer, speeding up the process.

“Identity verification of every traveler prior to flying is a key step in the security screening process,” Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York, said. “This technology enhances detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent IDs such as driver’s licenses and passports at a checkpoint, and it increases efficiency by automatically verifying a passenger’s identification. We want to ensure that you are who you say you are.” 

Once the unit authenticates the photo ID against the traveler’s in-person photo, passengers can proceed through the checkpoint. The in-person photos are only used to compare to the traveler’s photo ID and are then immediately deleted from the CAT-2 unit.

This announcement comes as the TSA prepares for what they expect to be the highest passenger volumes at airport security checkpoints nationwide during this summer’s travel season, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. TSA expects Friday, May 24, to be the busiest travel day of Memorial Day weekend, with an anticipated nearly 3 million passengers.

TSA says that even with this new technology, passengers must check in with their airline and bring their boarding passes to their gate to show before boarding a flight.

— Madison Scott is a journalist with the Democrat and Chronicle who edited our Weld Street Project and also did reporting for it. She has an interest in how the system helps or doesn’t help families with missing loved ones. She can be reached at MDScott@gannett.com.

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