It seems like a simple enough request—be ready to show the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer your boarding pass and a government ID when you get to the front of the security line at the airport. And yet, sometimes you’ve tucked the paper boarding pass into a pocket, and you can’t remember which. Or decided to fold it up into your wallet and need dig it out. Or it’s on your phone, which is now locked.
Well, there’s good news for those of us who feel like we are perpetually scrambling to find our boarding pass when we go through security. At more than 100 airports across the United States, travelers will no longer need to scan their boarding pass at security. At these hubs, TSA is now using Credential Authentication Technology (CAT), a system linked electronically to the flight database allowing TSA officers to confirm travelers’ flight details as well as whether they are enrolled in a trusted traveler program, such as TSA PreCheck, simply by scanning their ID.
Passengers still need to check in with their airline and obtain a boarding pass, either a paper or electronic one, and will still need to scan their boarding pass at their gate when boarding their flight.
In order to take advantage of the CAT scanning procedure, passengers 18 years old and over will need to show valid identification, which includes a driver’s license (it will need to be a Real ID starting in May 2025), U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, U.S. Department of Defense ID, U.S. Merchant Mariner ID, Global Entry or NEXUS card, permanent resident card, or other government-issued ID.
These are many of the airports with the new CAT technology and where travelers are likely to not be asked by TSA agents to hand over their boarding pass:
- Alaska’s Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
- Bradley International Airport in Connecticut (BDL)
- Nashville International Airport (BNA)
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
- Charleston International Airport (CHS)
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
- Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida (FLL)
- Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
- Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP)
- Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)
- New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- LaGuardia Airport in New York (LGA)
- Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
- Oakland International Airport (OAK)
- Ontario International Airport (ONT)
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Portland International Airport in Oregon (PDX)
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
- Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
- Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)
- Portland International Jetport in Maine (PWM)
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
- Richmond International Airport (RIC)
- Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO)
- San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
- John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California (SNA)
TSA posts a full and updated list of all the airports with the new CAT security systems on its website.
Eliminating the need to show a boarding pass is just one of several ways TSA is making the airport security process more streamlined and quicker.
The agency also recently unveiled new Computed Tomography (CT) x-ray systems that will ultimately allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their luggage, speeding up the often sluggish security lines. The scanners have already been installed at Lihue Airport on Hawai‘i’s Kauaʻi island, and additional scanners are being deployed to airports throughout the U.S.
While we wait for this futuristic technology to hit more airports, there are a few additional measures travelers can take now to cut down security wait times. TSA PreCheck already allows passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their carry-on bags and keep on their shoes, saving precious minutes in hectic lines. The service costs $78 to sign up and $70 to renew (membership lasts five years).
Clear is another option, although the service is currently only offered at a few dozen airports. The program lets passengers check in at designated kiosks using facial recognition and fingerprint scans, as opposed to showing ID at the security checkpoints. Once the machine matches your identity with the boarding pass, an agent will whisk you to the front of the security line. Membership costs $189 per year, and you can sign up on the Clear website.
Select U.S. airports are also giving travelers the option to make an advance “fast pass” reservation to head to the front of the security line—free of charge.
This story was originally published in July 2022, and was updated on December 15, 2022, to include current information.