Agency plans upgrade to expedite checking luggage at Santa Barbara Airport
The Santa Barbara Municipal airport will soon be receiving an upgrade in TSA security technology.
The Credential Authentication Technology is one of two new security technologies that will be coming to Santa Barbara by the spring. A computed tomography scanner has also been recently installed, for use in scanning carry-on luggage.
The CAT assists in the process of checking travel documents. The CAT scans the photo ID and confirms the traveler’s identity on screen.
It is also able to verify that the traveler is ticketed for travel that day, due to the CAT being linked to the secure flight database through a secure internet connection. CAT also displays the pre-screening status (such as TSA PreCheck) the traveler is eligible for, all without the traveler presenting a boarding pass to the Transportation Security Administration officer.
The CAT enables the TSA officers ability to accurately authenticate a traveler’s identification. CAT also has enhanced capabilities to detect fraudulent documentation.
According to the TSA, the use of CAT addresses vulnerabilities with photo ID and boarding pass fraud.
“The technology is designed to detect anomalies in the credential, fake IDs, IDS that have been tampered with,” TSA spokesperson Lori Dankers told the News-Press Thursday.
“Officers are trained to spot fake IDs, but they are pretty sophisticated now,” Ms. Dankers said. “A database of photo IDs is scanned into CAT unit, compared to the traveler’s ID. An ID showing an anomalies is flagged for the security officer,”
The News-Press asked about the database of photo IDs.
“TSA has access to every type of ID travelers would use: state, driver’s license, passports, etc.,” Ms. Dankers said. “All IDs accepted by the TSA are loaded into a CAT unit. The CAT unit can read Real ID and standard ID.”
The security checkpoint at the Santa Barbara Airport continues to play a role in keeping passengers safe.
In addition to spotting fake or tampered IDs, the new CAT addresses boarding pass fraud, “because people do not need to show boarding pass, when ID is scanned,” Ms. Dankers explained. “The CAT pulls the biographical information of a traveler, and compares it to what is shown on the screen when the ID is scanned. The CAT then tells the officer if additional security screening is needed for that passenger.
“The CAT is an added tool which helps TSA verify that the traveler is who they say they are, and that they are ticketed for travel,” Ms. Dankers said.
In addition to the CAT, the TSA has introduced the computed technology scanner, which is used in screening travelers’ carry-on luggage at security checkpoints.
The scanner implements an algorithm that generates a 3D image of the contents of each traveler’s bag.
The 3-D X-ray image generated can be manipulated by a TSA officer to allow for a better view of the bag’s contents. The TSA believes this will reduce the number of necessary bag checks.
The TSA also believes this will eliminate the need for travelers to remove items, including electronics from their bags.
“The cost of the unit is $325,000 installed,” Ms. Dankers said. “The TSA has been using this type of technology for years, but the footprint has finally become small enough that it is checkpoint-friendly.”
The CT scanner allows the TSA officer to rotate the view of the contents or to visually slice the contents for a closer look.
The TSA also sees the technology as a means of protecting its officers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to make sure laptops have not been tampered with,” Ms. Dankers said. “Every bag goes in a bin with an RFID sticker on the side. A TSA scans the sticker and pulls up a 3D image of the contents of the bag on the screen.”
The new security equipment enables a more streamlined security process.
“It is not quicker, but it is more efficient in terms of fewer bag checks. It is quicker for the traveler as well as you no longer have to remove items from your bag such as electronics, food and liquids,” Ms. Dankers said.
Anita Minaei, the TSA security director for the Santa Barbara Airport, said officers will work throughout the holidays to deliver the most effective security in the most efficient manner.
“However, there is no substitute for passenger preparation for the airport screening process,” Ms. Minaei said. “We highly recommend that before leaving for the airport, travelers take a few minutes to closely examine what they are packing in their carry-on bags. This simple step will help ensure that prohibited items are left at home, or placed in checked luggage for transport.”
Ms. Dankers emphasized the importance of listening to your TSA officer: If officers say they don’t need your boarding pass, they don’t need it.
They will also tell you to leave your items in the bag with the implementation of new security technology.
Ms. Dankers said listening to your TSA officer will expedite the process.
The TSA estimates that holiday travel will be about 90% of what it was in 2019, in a pre-pandemic world. The busiest days locally and nationally are anticipated to be today, Wednesday and Dec. 23.
In addition, Jan. 3 is projected to be very busy as the holiday season wraps up and people prepare to make the return trip home.
TSA said the busiest times of day at the Santa Barbara Airport security checkpoint are 4:15 a.m. – 6:15 a.m. and 10 a.m. to noon daily.
The TSA first began this process of installing new security systems in late 2019 when the agency purchased 300 units of scanning technology. The TSA is in the process of purchasing more scanners, which it hopes to install this spring at the Santa Barbara Airport.