TSA checkpoints at BWI Airport now touchless

Local Press Release
Friday, February 5, 2021
A traveler inserts her ID into a credential authentication technology unit at BWI Airport. (TSA photo)

LINTHICUM, Md. – All of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) checkpoints at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) have gone touchless as a result of the complete installation of automated photo identification scanners.

TSA at BWI is now using credential authentication technology (CAT) at every security checkpoint throughout the airport—36 total. When a traveler approaches any document checking podium at the entrance of the security checkpoint, the TSA officer will ask the traveler to insert or scan their own photo ID into the unit, eliminating the need for the individual to hand their ID or boarding pass to the TSA officer.  

The CAT units improve TSA’s capability to detect fraudulent ID such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification. Additionally, the units are able to confirm a passenger’s flight status in near real time, adding to the efficiency of the process.

“The use of the CAT units not only enhances security, but it also reduces a touchpoint between travelers and TSA officers, and makes this first step of the security screening process self-serve, an especially important feature during the pandemic,” said Andrea R. Mishoe, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Maryland.

When travelers approach the TSA travel document podium, they place their driver’s license or passport into the CAT unit to be scanned. Because the passenger inserts their ID instead of handing it to a TSA officer, it is one less touch-point to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. In most cases, travelers who approach the TSA travel document checking podium do not have to show their boarding pass because the CAT unit verifies the traveler is prescreened to travel out of the airport for a flight that day. However, however, officers may ask for boarding passes for individuals under 18 and/or those with ID issues. 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.

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.

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.

As part of its “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign, TSA has implemented multiple proactive and protective measures to enhance the security screening experience and make it safer and healthier for travelers and the airport community. In addition to the use of CAT, TSA has expanded its use of 3-D X-ray scanners to improve threat detection capabilities during the screening of carry-on luggage. This state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) technology reduces the number of bag checks of travelers’ personal property.  

TSA has also instituted physical distancing measures, installed acrylic barriers where travelers and TSA officers interact at the checkpoint, requires the wearing of personal protective equipment among its employees and conducts increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces in the security checkpoint.