New Tech Aims to Speed Airport Screenings

Machines check the validity of identification cards and boarding passes as passengers move through airport security.

by / April 16, 2012

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing a new system that scans identification cards and boarding passes that could speed up the screening process at airports.

With the new system, passengers step up to the TSA desk in the security line and scan the bar code on their boarding pass. At the same time, a TSA employee takes a person’s ID and verifies it using a machine. If there is a problem with verification, the passenger can be further questioned.

The TSA hopes the technology will make the screening process easier and more accurate.

“For efficiency, it is fantastic,” said Domenic Bianchini, TSA’s director of checkpoint technology, in an interview with USA Today. “We think it’s a valuable technology, and we think over time we will see the real value added.”

TSA spokesman Greg Soule also told USA Today that a passenger’s personal information isn’t stored by the machine.

The system will be tested at a few different airports, before a larger rollout commences. Washington-Dulles International Airport started using the machine last week. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston will first use the technology on Tuesday, April 17, followed by San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 23.

The first 30 machines — custom manufactured for the TSA by BAE Systems Information Solutions, Trans Digital Technologies and NCR Government Systems — cost approximately $3.2 million, according to Soule.