TSA Launches Facial Recognition Technology at Los Angeles International Airport

March 29, 2022

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has introduced new facial recognition technology to verify the identity of guests at some of the airport’s security checkpoints.

When entering the TSA screening area, guests may be asked to insert their government-issued photo ID into a next generation Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) unit, which is equipped with a camera that captures a photo of the guest.

The CAT compares the guest’s facial features on their photo ID against the facial features from the in-person photo, confirming their identity. Guests will need to briefly adjust their face mask for the in-person photo.

Once the technology confirms a match, it will be verified by a TSA officer and the guest can proceed through the checkpoint without ever exchanging physical documents. TSA officers can perform additional passenger verification if needed. 

"As a longtime TSA innovation partner, LAX has led the way in developing, testing and implementing new technology and procedures which enhance safety and streamline the guest experience," said Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, LAWA. “By testing the latest in biometrics, we once again are setting new industry standards for safety, security and efficiency."

TSA currently has the next generation CAT units in place in terminals throughout the airport. Currently, TSA is collecting data to measure the rate and accuracy of guest facial recognition and identity verification to help the agency evaluate the overall performance of the units in a busy security checkpoint environment. The results of this test will help determine the feasibility and potential deployment of the enhanced CAT units to other airports in the future.

“TSA is focused on the future of screening operations and leveraging enhanced capabilities of existing technologies to ensure the highest level of security effectiveness,” said Keith Jeffries, TSA Federal Security Director at LAX. "With increased automation and reduced physical contact between travelers and TSA officers, this new identity verification process is a win for everyone. I am grateful for the leadership at LAX and their willingness to enthusiastically embrace the next generation of technologies throughout the airport.”

Photos captured by CAT units are not stored or used for any other purpose than identity verification in the security checkpoint. Guests who do not wish to participate in facial recognition verification can opt out in favor of an alternative identity verification process. 

CAT plays an important role in travel document verification. It improves a TSA officer’s ability to authenticate a traveler’s photo identification while also identifying inconsistencies associated with fraudulent travel documents.

In its partnership with TSA, LAX has been at the forefront of implementing emerging security technologies, with a focus on innovation. In January 2021, TSA announced that LAX was the first airport in the country to be fully outfitted with first-generation CAT units at all of the airport's security screening checkpoints.

Source: Los Angeles International Airport

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