TSA Testing New Fingerprint Scanners in Lieu of Boarding Passes

The TSA is testing new fingerprint scanning technology at two airports that has the potential to replace the need for boarding passes and identity documents.

The Transportation Security Administration is testing new technology that will potentially enable passengers to use their fingerprints as both a boarding pass and an identity document.

The tests are being conducted in TSA Pre® lanes at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Denver International Airport starting this week.

The TSA said it is conducting a proof of concept demonstration to evaluate the operational and security impact of using biometrics to verify passengers’ identities using their fingerprints. The technology matches passenger fingerprints provided at the checkpoint to those that have previously been provided to TSA by travelers when they enrolled in the TSA Pre® application program.

Once the technology finds a fingerprint match, it is able to obtain the passenger’s boarding pass information through Secure Flight. Participation is voluntary and all passengers who choose to participate will then be subject to the standard ticket document checking process of showing their boarding pass and identification document.

“TSA looks at technologies and intelligence capabilities that allow us to analyze and secure the travel environment, passengers and their property,” said TSA Acting Assistant Administrator Steve Karoly of the Office of Requirements and Capabilities Analysis. “Through these and other technology demonstrations, we are looking to reinvent and enhance security effectiveness to meet the evolving threat and ensure that passengers get to their destinations safely.”

The TSA said that the long-term potential impact of the technology could eliminate the need for boarding passes and identification documents as well as granting or denying traveler access into the security checkpoint through an electronic gate.

Depending on its analysis of the data, the agency will look at the possibility of implementing fingerprint scanners at other airports in the future.

TSA Pre® passengers who have not provided fingerprints to TSA through the TSA Pre® application program are also invited to use the system since it provides valuable information to the agency during the proof of concept period.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.