Faces Become Airline Boarding Passes in 2023

Airport screening integrates facial recognition
Airline passenger screening
TSA CAT-2 screening technology
Washington DC (Vax Before Travel)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently testing facial identification scanners at sixteen U.S. airports.

PBS reported on December 24, 2022, airline passengers insert their ID into a Credential Authentication Technology (CAT-2) unit at the kiosk and look at a camera for a few seconds. 

The innovative CAT-2 system compares the person's facial features on their photo ID against the elements from the in-person photo, confirming their identity. 

And a TSA agent is positioned close by to provide final confirmation and answer any questions.

The TSA's pilot program began at Reagan Washington National Airport in 2020 and was later expanded to Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, and Miami airports.

The TSA previously stated We are aware of various public concerns related to the accuracy of biometric technologies and take this issue seriously.

Along with our federal partners, we are carefully studying biometric solutions in laboratories and operational environments to proactively identify and mitigate performance issues upfront.

Accuracy and equity in biometric system performance is a crucial issue for TSA.

We are carefully studying to ensure we understand the full benefits of this technology and make informed decisions to mitigate risks.

The TSA previously posted a Myth Buster disclosure regarding this technology. Excerpts are inserted below:

  • TSA does not store the images captured by the facial recognition technology we are testing with U.S. Customs and Border Protection except for a limited period for testing and evaluation purposes.
  • Participation in the testing of biometrics technology is voluntary. Passengers may notify a TSA officer if they do not wish to participate and will go through the standard ID verification process.
  • TSA hopes that biometrics technology will improve the accuracy and speed of identity verification while making the passenger experience faster and more seamless.

"Identity verification of every traveler before flying is a key step in the security screening process. TSA embraces the use of this type of technology to enhance security and increase the efficiency of our operation," commented TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau in a November 18, 2022, press release

Read more about these programs at www.tsa.gov/digital-id.

Furthermore, according to recent screening data, the TSA will need to deploy more CAT-2 systems to meet increases in travelers in 2023.

As of January 3, 2022, the TSA has screened more air passengers than in 2022 and even pre-pandemic in 2019.

Article by
Donald Hackett