The US summer travel chaos has been in the news lately and it continues to worsen! Airlines are cancelling thousands of flights by the minute and travelers are in a flux with increasing airport security wait times along with other flight-related issues. Amidst all this turbulence comes the news about The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rolling out new tech for seamless experience for passengers – a much-needed relief for those living in the USA.
For those familiar with TSA PreCheck can attest to the fact that this program is a really great convenience for passengers. Now, with the introduction of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) scanners; expect some relief by way of reduced security wait times at US airports. With CAT, passengers need not present their boarding passes to TSA agents. But they will still need to present it at the boarding gate for enhanced airport security as usual.
How will the introduction of CAT benefit passengers? Well, to begin with; even a few seconds of waiting time reduction can mean a significant curtailment in the wait times of passengers further along the security check lines.
How will these CAT scanners verify data? These scanners have seamless connectivity with Secure Flight Database. Secure Flight is another pre-screening program by the TSA and was launched in 2009. It pre-identifies passengers as high-risk or low-risk. It is connected to Federal database. TSA PreCheck is a pre-screening program for low-risk passengers and was launched in 2013. So, CAT will have access to passengers’ flight details for the upcoming 24 hours. The passengers will enter their ID into the scanner, which will quickly identify their details and verify the same. It will accept any official ID such as passport, resident card, driver’s license etc.
TSA plans to introduce CAT at all US airports; both big and small. Currently, 176 airports (as per a May 10 data) have more than 1600 CAT scanners currently in use. Based on improvements regarding security check times; TSA is planning to add more airports in the list for CAT upgrades.
Are there any more TSA upgrades in the works? Yes, in fact the TSA has also begun to roll out Computed Tomography (CT) scanners to further facilitate airport screening process. These scanners will furnish 3D images of items passengers take through the TSA checkpoints. This process will eliminate the need for a secondary security checkpoint inspection.
Are these measures too late and too little? These new upgrades; especially the CAT rollout, may seem very insignificant in terms of a micro view. But when you consider the cumulative effects of the saved seconds and minutes; the benefits to passengers are likely to be quite significant. Given that airport security wait times can be extremely harrowing for passengers; especially during the holiday season; these TSA upgrades are a welcome measure. Whether you are used to checking your TSA precheck status every time you fly (because it is so convenient) or not affected by travel chaos (yet); you are likely to agree that airport upgrades benefiting passengers need to be implemented ASAP as per the ever-changing requirements for flight travel and enhanced security measures.
TSA, it seems, is certainly is up to the task.