DFW Airport

New Gadget Aims to Make Airport Checkpoints Simpler and Safer, TSA Says

Device allows passengers to scan their own identification cards

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A new gadget at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport allows people to swipe their own identification cards into an electronic reader – without TSA agents ever touching it.

The new machines are being installed at airports nationwide just in time for the busy holiday travel season.

"We're deploying a new technology that will allow a passenger to almost self-serve the identification verification point,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said.

The machines are similar to self-serve credit card machines used in many stores.

Pekoske said his agency has been fine-tuning security procedures in the age of the coronavirus to make traveling simpler and safer.

"It's much better from a security standpoint and it's certainly better from a passenger convenience standpoint because it's more automated,” he said.

Large acrylic barriers between officers and passengers provide more protection during the initial ID check.

All officers wear masks, and pat-down searches are done as little as possible, Pekoske said.

"Things are just much more clean than they have been in the past. We do extensive sanitization of our checkpoints all the time and we know the carriers do and the airports do as well," he said.

Still, even with all the precautions, some risk remains -- and not just for passengers.

Since March, more than 2,000 TSA officers have tested positive themselves for the virus.

All but about 300 have recovered.

Eight have died.

The TSA administrator said he felt comfortable flying.

"I travel every week,” Pekoske said. “I follow all the precautions that have been put out by the CDC and I find most other passengers, actually with rare exception, almost all passengers follow those guidelines."

DFW Airport is at about 60% capacity compared to this time last year, he said. That compares to about 40% for airports nationwide.

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