TSA at Eastern Iowa Airport gets new credential authentication technology to improve checkpoint screening capabilities

Local Press Release
Friday, November 6, 2020
Use of a CAT unit reduces touch points because passengers insert their own ID and don’t need to hand their boarding pass to a TSA officer. (TSA photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa —  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at Eastern Iowa Airport has just installed and is using new technology that confirms the validity of a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real time.

“The new credential authentication technology (CAT) unit that is at the travel document checking podium enhances our detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent ID such as driver’s licenses, passports and other forms of identification at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” said John Bright, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Iowa. “The credential authentication system is also able to confirm the passenger’s flight status in near real time through a secured connection. As an added bonus, use of the system helps reduce touchpoints during the pandemic because travelers don’t have to hand their boarding pass or their ID to the TSA officer.”

Passengers should approach the travel document checking station at the checkpoint and insert their ID into the scanner for authentication, thus reducing a touch point. Passengers will not have to hand over their boarding pass (electronic or paper), reducing a second touchpoint. Instead, they should hold up their boarding pass to the TSA officer for visual inspection. The CAT unit will verify that the traveler is prescreened to travel out of the airport for a flight that day; however, a boarding pass may be requested for travelers under the age of 18 and/or those with ID issues.

Passenger inserting ID in reader
A passenger inserts his ID into a credential authentication technology unit at Eastern Iowa Airport. (TSA photo)

Even with TSA’s use of CAT, travelers still need to check-in with their airline in advance and bring their boarding pass to their gate agent to show the airline representative before boarding their flight.

This technology will enhance detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents at the security checkpoint.

CAT units 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.

A CAT unit consists of the passport reader, an ID card reader, a Federal personal identity verification ID card reader, a monitor, a stand and a UV light.  

In addition, it is critical that travelers have their REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other acceptable form of identification by the Oct. 1, 2021, deadline. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license after Oct. 1, 2021, if it is not REAL ID-compliant.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act and implementing regulations establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, like TSA, from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes, such as getting through the airport security checkpoint to board a plane.