TSA Testing Fingerprint Scans to Get You Through the Airport

Jun 13, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Tired of fumbling with your phone at the airport security checkpoint? Forgot your ID at home? Well, in the not-so-distant future, you’ll be able to clear security with just your fingerprints.

Starting this week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be installing fingerprint readers to test a new concept: biometric identification and boarding passes.

The long-term idea is to “automate the travel document checking process by eliminating the need for a boarding pass and identity document,” similar to what JetBlue’s testing in partnership with US Customs and Border Protection. For passengers who are registered in the system, you’d no longer have to wait in line for a TSA agent to check your ID and boarding pass. Instead, you’d simply scan your fingerprints and the system would automatically check to verify that you have a flight from that airport that day.

According to the TSA’s press release, initial testing of this system will begin this week in both Atlanta (ATL) and Denver (DEN). TSA PreCheck members will be able to opt-in to scanning their fingerprints at these new machines:

Image courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration.
Image courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration.

However, instead of speeding up the process, passengers who opt-in during the testing period will actually have to take more time than before. Passengers will still “be subject to the standard ticket document checking process of showing their boarding pass and identification document.”

And, the new machines will only work if you’ve logged your fingerprints with the TSA as part of registering for a Trusted Traveler program such as Global Entry. If you’ve got TSA PreCheck but haven’t registered your fingerprints, the TSA still wants you to participate “since it provides valuable information to TSA during the proof of concept.” In seems that the agency needs to make sure that the system actually rejects passengers who don’t have a matching fingerprint.

Personally, I look forward to the eventual full rollout of this system. On a domestic trip in 2014, my wallet was stolen the day we were scheduled to fly home. It turns out that the TSA has a process for dealing with passengers without an ID, but it’s a lengthy and invasive one. It took my wife’s pleading with a JetBlue gate agent to keep me from missing our flight — which was the last flight of the night. With a fingerprint-based verification system, I’d have no trouble getting through without my identification.

If you manage to try out the TSA’s new system, please share your experience in the comments below.

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.