Apple Wallet Streamlines Airport Security Screening

Airline travelers can add Mobile ID to their Apple Wallet before reaching TSA checkpoints
iphone with wallet on it
Photo Mix from Pixabay
(Vax Before Travel)

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently deployed an innovative technology that enables airline passengers to use their Arizona state-issued mobile driver’s license or mobile identification card in Apple Wallet to verify their identity for airport security screening purposes.

Starting at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), PreCheck® passengers with driver’s licenses or state IDs issued by the State of Arizona will be able to add a digital version of their license or ID to their Apple Wallet for TSA identity verification purposes.

This enhancement is needed in April 2022 as airport passenger screening has recently approached pre-COVID-19 pandemic volumes.

“As mobile device technologies continue to advance and become more secure, TSA is committed to leveraging those technologies wherever possible to enhance airport security, reduce touchpoints, provide greater privacy protections to individuals, and facilitate greater accuracy in identity verification capabilities at TSA checkpoints,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske, in a press release issued on March 23, 2022.

“We expect PHX to be the first of many airports this year to feature this innovation as TSA continues to enable a more efficient checkpoint experience for passengers.”

Initially, this new capability will be available only at PHX from Arizona. Passengers must add their Arizona-issued state driver’s license or state ID to Apple Wallet to use this feature.

Passengers will simply tap their iPhone or Apple Watch at the TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology reader to present their ID in Apple Wallet. The TSA security officer will verify the passenger’s identity and flight status for a secure, fast, convenient, and touchless identity verification experience.

With a driver’s license and state ID in Apple Wallet, identification data is encrypted and transmitted digitally, eliminating the need for passengers to show or hand over their device to a TSA officer. 

All passengers, including those traveling through PHX with a driver’s license or state ID, must continue to carry and have readily available their physical driver’s license or identification card or other acceptable ID listed on the TSA website. 

The TSA officer may require this physical ID to complete ID verification.

TSA recommends that eligible travelers complete the process of adding a mobile ID to their Apple Wallet before arriving at the TSA checkpoint. Only passengers with TSA PreCheck added to their boarding pass will be eligible at this time, with the capability to roll out to other passengers soon.

TSA introduced the concept of the mobile driver’s license in April 2021. 

TSA’s interest in this technology is driven by potential security and privacy enhancements provided by mobile driver’s licenses compared to physical cards. In addition, touchless identity verification will have health and safety benefits in response to the pandemic.

As other states and technology companies adopt this capability, TSA will deploy this new efficiency at additional security checkpoints.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes fact-checked research-based travel news.

Note: The TSA announcement was edited for clarity and curated for mobile readers.