TSA Security Screenings Will Be Self-Service in Select Airports

The new procedure is already available at 25 U.S. airports.

The new self-service podium at TSA

The new self-service podiums are meant to streamline the security process.

Courtesy of TSA

You may not need to give a TSA agent your ID or your boarding pass before your next flight. This summer, TSA is rolling out a new generation of technology to verify travelers’ identity and flight details in an effort to streamline and strengthen the security process.

“Identity management is the lynchpin in transportation security, and this technology verifies the authenticity of the passenger’s identification credential, that the person pictured on the credential is the same as the passenger standing at the podium,” said TSA press secretary Carter Langston.

Here’s what you need to know about the new self-service security screening technology.

How the self-service ID process works

Travelers insert their ID into the machine (or scan their passport) at the Travel Document Checker podium and are directed to look at the screen, where their photo is taken. The technology then compares the picture on the ID against the photo of the passenger at the podium and confirms their flight details and the type of screening the traveler is eligible for (regular or TSA PreCheck). It replaces the need for the TSA agent to check your ID or boarding pass. From there, travelers can move to the conveyor belt to have their belongings screened.

TSA said that passengers who would rather not have their photo taken (biometrics have been criticized in the past over security concerns) can opt out and have their ID manually verified by a TSA agent, who is standing next to the podium. Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokesperson, added that the “photos captured are never stored or used for any other purpose than immediate identity verification.”

According to the TSA, the new technology is better at sussing out fraudulent documents, thus playing an important role in enhancing the effectiveness of security checkpoints.

“Biometric recognition capabilities will improve the performance and security of TSA operations by increasing the accuracy and reliability of passenger identity verification by TSA,” according to the TSA website. “Biometrics can enable TSA to automate part of the current manual procedures and allow professional screening personnel to leverage their training and experience to focus more on alarms and error resolution.”

Self-service podium at TSA

TSA agents will be on hand to help passengers and to manually screen those who don’t want their photo taken.

Couresty of TSA

Which airports currently have self-service TSA screenings?

Currently, the U.S. airports with self-service security screenings at the following airports:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Nashville International Airport (BNA)
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • The Eastern Iowa Airport (CID)
  • John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Des Moines International Airport (DSM)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
  • Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT)
  • Honolulu Daniel K Inouye International Airport (HNL)
  • Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN)
  • Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
  • Will Rogers World Airport (OKC)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Richmond International Airport (RIC)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)

According to a TSA spokesperson, only a few hundred of the self-service units have been put into use and aren’t available at all the security checkpoints at all of the above airports.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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