Westchester County Airport Installs Security Technology to Validate Passenger ID

A CAT unit reads a passport that was inserted into the unit and indicates that this ID is valid as indicated by the green bar in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. (TSA photo)
A CAT unit reads a passport that was inserted into the unit and indicates that this ID is valid as indicated by the green bar in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. (TSA photo)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at Westchester County Airport (HPN) is now using new technology that confirms the validity of a traveler’s identification (ID) and confirms their flight information in near real time.

“The new credential authentication technology at the Westchester County Airport checkpoint improves upon TSA’s detection capabilities for identifying fake IDs such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and improves upon our security efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “The system also has the capability of confirming the passenger’s flight status in near real time.”

Passengers should approach the travel document checking station at the checkpoint and hand their ID to the TSA officer for authentication. Passengers will not have to hand over their boarding pass (electronic or paper), thus reducing a touchpoint. The credential authentication technology (CAT) unit will verify that the traveler is prescreened to travel out of the airport for a flight that day; however, a boarding pass 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.

This technology will enhance detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents at the security checkpoint. 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. 

 In addition, it is critical that travelers have their REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other acceptable form of identification by the Oct. 1, 2021, deadline. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license after Oct. 1, 2021, if it is not REAL ID-compliant.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act and implementing regulations establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, like TSA, from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes, such as getting through the airport security checkpoint to board a plane.


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