Oct 21 2008

TSA Expands Electronic Boarding Pass Scanning Program

The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its electronic boarding pass pilot program. This system will make it easier for TSA to be able to gather and track individual travel data. The program began in Houston in December 2007 and added more airports in April. Here’s how the program works, according to TSA:

The electronic boarding pass contains a two-dimensional (2-D) barcode encrypted with specific passenger information, such as the traveler’s name and flight information.

At the checkpoint, passengers present their cell phones or PDA to a TSA travel document checking officer. The officer will scan the encrypted barcode using a handheld device to verify its authenticity. Passengers will still be required to show photo identification so officers can validate that the name on the boarding pass matches the name on the ID.

In fact, why doesn’t TSA take this to the next step? If the agency already knows who has a boarding pass from data sent by the airlines (to verify the pass’s authenticity), then why doesn’t TSA just tell travelers to use our ID cards as our boarding passes? “Save a tree — show your ID.”

TSA is already planning on using the boarding pass scanners nationwide to collect data. “Once the hand-held scanners are deployed nationwide, TSA will also use this technology to track wait times using standardized automated data collected at checkpoints. This development is expected to happen within about a year,” says TSA. Read More