As contactless travel options gain popularity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the TSA has begun rolling out tests for a new touchless “self-service” technology to verify traveler identification.

How Contactless Facial Scanning Works

The process allows travelers to insert their ID into the scanner, rather than handing it to a TSA officer, reducing contact and the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The facial scanner technology will take live photos to match a traveler’s face to the image on their ID, and confirm the traveler’s identity in comparison to the photo. Once confirmed, it can also provide the traveler’s flight information in real time. A TSA officer is still present during this new process, and will monitor the check-in from behind a barrier to verify that the images match.

Where Can You be Part of the Test?

The current pilot is being tested at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), with plans to roll out the technology in other high-traffic airports later this year upon successful testing.

Participation in the pilot for this technology is voluntary – travelers who do not want to participate will undergo the standard screening and check-in process. Photos taken of travelers in order to verify their identity are not saved or stored, and are deleted within 24 hours for privacy protection.

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