New TSA Technology Enhances Screening Process at PHL

In an ongoing effort to enhance the passenger screening process, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) are using Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) that validates a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real time.

The technology is designed to “Enhance our detection capabilities for identifying altered or fraudulent IDs such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for PHL. “The system also is able to confirm the passenger’s flight status in near real time through a secured connection. Overall, it increases efficiency at the checkpoint.”

When a traveler hands the TSA officer their ID, the officer places it in the CAT unit, which scans the ID and informs the TSA officer whether the ID is valid. According to TSA, 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 that the traveler is prescreened to travel out of the airport for a flight that day; however, one may be requested for travelers under the age of 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.

“Keeping our airport community safe and running efficiently is paramount. The CAT technology being used in the checkpoint screening process helps in this effort, and we are pleased that our partners at TSA are using these measures at PHL,” said Leah Douglas, PHL Director of Guest Experience.

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.

A CAT unit consists of the passport reader, an ID card reader, a Federal personal identity verification ID card reader, a monitor, a stand and a UV light. 

Speaking of valid identification, it’s important to remind travelers that come October 1, 2021, they must have REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other acceptable form of identification in order to fly domestically from a U.S. airport. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license after Oct. 1, 2021, if it is not REAL ID-compliant.


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Heather Redfern
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