New credential authentication technology units installed at Albany and Syracuse Hancock International Airports ahead of the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period

TSA shares travel tips ahead of the holiday
Local Press Release
Friday, November 17, 2023
A traveler stands at the new technology unit that snaps a photo of the individual after they insert their ID.

ALBANY, N.Y.--Individuals flying out of Albany and Syracuse Hancock International Airports for the Thanksgiving holiday will come face-to-face with the latest new security enhancement at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints. The new technology, which was installed earlier this month, confirms the validity of a traveler’s identification (ID) by matching the face on their ID with the face of the person standing at the travel document checking podium.

Airport security checkpoints will be busier than ever this Thanksgiving holiday travel season and the new technology will enhance security for holiday travelers who are flying out of Albany and Syracuse.

The new credential authentication technology units are equipped with cameras and match the individual’s face with the face that appears on the traveler’s ID such as the person’s license or passport. The technology enhances detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents at the security checkpoint. The photos are not saved and are only used to match the person standing at the travel document checking podium with the photo on the ID that is being presented.

“These new units are valuable because they enhance 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,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “We are fortunate to have these units installed ahead of the busy holiday travel period. This helps ensure that we know who is boarding flights. The system also confirms the passenger’s flight status by verifying that the individual is ticketed to fly out of that airport on that day.”

As an additional feature, the unit is “self-service,” meaning that the passengers insert their ID and do not have to hand it to a TSA officer. Thus the units reduce touchpoints and speed the process. Travelers insert their ID, look at the camera and if the ID is validated, the traveler then proceeds into the checkpoint. Even with TSA’s use of these units, travelers still need to check-in with their airline in advance and bring their boarding pass to their gate to show the airline representative before boarding their flight.

Thanksgiving travel season begins today, Friday, Nov. 17, and concludes Tuesday, Nov. 28. During the 12-day period, TSA expects to screen 30 million passengers across the country. Historically, the three busiest travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterward. TSA officials are expecting this to be the busiest Thanksgiving period in the agency’s history.

“The professional and dedicated workforce at TSA remains committed to ensuring the safety and security of those traveling from airports in Upstate New York,” Johnson said. “During the Thanksgiving holiday, we expect a surge of travelers at the airport and strongly encourage travelers to give themselves ample time to get through the TSA security checkpoint so they can safely make their scheduled flights.”

Travelers should keep these top tips in mind before arriving at the airport:

  1. Pack smart; start with empty bags. Passengers who start with an empty bag while packing are less likely to bring prohibited items through the checkpoint. Certain foods, such as gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam and preserves must be packed in a checked bag because they are considered to be liquids or gels. If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it is a liquid and must be packed in your checked bag. As always, passengers may bring solid foods such as cakes and other baked goods through the TSA checkpoint. Check for prohibited items by using the “What Can I Bring?” page on or just ask @AskTSA.
  2. A traveler inserts her ID into the new credential authentication technology unit. (TSA photo)
    A traveler inserts her ID into the new credential authentication technology unit. (TSA photo)
    Bring an acceptable ID and have it out in the screening lane. Before heading to the airport, travelers must make sure they have acceptable identification. Identity verification is an important step in the security screening process. At many checkpoints, the TSO may ask you to insert your physical ID into one of our Credential Authentication Technology units, where a boarding pass is not needed.
    The second generation of CAT, called CAT-2, is currently deployed to 25 airports and adds a camera and smartphone reader to the other CAT features. The camera captures a real-time photo of the traveler at the podium and compares the traveler’s photo on the identification credential against the in-person, real-time photo. Once the CAT-2 confirms the match, the TSO verifies and directs the traveler for appropriate security screening without ever exchanging a boarding pass. Photos are never stored or used for any other purpose than immediate identity verification.  Passenger participation is voluntary and if a passenger chooses not to have their photo taken, they may have their identity verified manually instead without losing their place in line. For more information on how TSA is using facial recognition technology to enhance security effectiveness, improve operational efficiency and yield a more streamlined passenger experience, go to
  3. Arrive early. The airport will be busy this week, so arrive two hours prior to your scheduled flight to allow for adequate time to park your car or arrive via public transit or rideshare, check bags and go through security screening before arriving at the gate.
  4. If you plan to travel with a firearm, you must properly pack the firearm in a hard-sided, locked case in your checked bag and declare it with the airline at the ticket counter when checking in. Passengers are prohibited from packing firearms in carry-on luggage and bringing them to the airport security checkpoint and onboard aircraft. Bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint is expensive and time-consuming and can cause delays. The maximum civil penalty for bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint is nearly $15,000. Additionally, it will result in the loss of TSA PreCheck® eligibility for up to five years.  For more information on transporting firearms, visit:
  5. Be aware of new checkpoint screening technology. TSA uses a variety of security methods and technologies to secure our transportation systems. Screening protocols vary from airport to airport, depending on available technology and the current threat environment. Some airports have installed new state-of-the-art Computed Tomography (CT) scanners which significantly improve threat detection capabilities for carry-on bags and reduce physical searches of bag contents for prohibited items. CT units give TSOs the ability to review 3-D images of passengers’ bags, so passengers screened in security lanes with CT units do not need to remove their 3-1-1 liquids or laptops. With CT units, all travelers must place every carry-on item, including bags, into a bin for screening.
  6. Travel with ease with TSA PreCheck® and ensure you have the TSA PreCheck mark on your boarding pass. TSA’s trusted traveler program now has more than 90 participating airlines, is available at more than 200 airports and has two authorized enrollment providers. Those enrolled enjoy the benefits of faster checkpoint screening. The five-year membership costs just $78. After submitting an online application, which takes just five minutes, applicants must schedule an appointment at any of the 500+ enrollment centers. After a successful enrollment center visit, most new enrollees will receive their Known Traveler Number (KTN) within three to five days. Members may renew their membership online up to six months prior to expiration for another five-year term for $70.
    Most TSA PreCheck members wait less than five minutes at the checkpoint. Children 12 and younger may join TSA PreCheck family members in the TSA PreCheck screening lanes. Children 13-17 may join enrolled adults in the dedicated lanes when traveling on the same reservation and if the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the child’s boarding pass. TSA PreCheck passengers must ensure that their KTN, along with correct date of birth, is in their airline reservation. For more information about becoming a member of the TSA PreCheck program, visit:   
  7. Call ahead to request passenger support. Travelers or families of passengers who need assistance may call the TSA Cares helpline toll-free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to travel with any questions about screening procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint for travelers with specific needs.
  8. Text or direct message us @ AskTSA. Get your questions answered before you head to the airport. Travelers can get assistance in real time by texting their question to #275-872 (“AskTSA”) or through @AskTSA on X (formerly known as Twitter) or Facebook Messenger. An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7, while staff is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET daily, including holidays and weekends. Travelers may also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
  9. Remain aware. Travelers should report suspicious activities, and remember: If You See Something, Say Something™.
  10. Show gratitude to frontline workers. Thank a TSA officer, a gate agent, a flight attendant or someone who serves on the transportation frontlines. TSA officers complete about 200 hours of training to become certified and are committed to transportation security while ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. Pack an extra dose of patience, especially during higher passenger volume travel days, and show gratitude to those who are working diligently over the holidays and every day to get everyone to their destinations safely.