TSA PreCheck Makes Huge Change for Travelers

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Mar 03, 2024

New TSA PreCheck technology has now made it so that fliers won’t have to show their ID or boarding pass during certain security checkpoints. This new technology is only available at certain airports at the moment — and only for United Airlines fliers.

Normally, TSA PreCheck members have to show their ID and boarding pass during key points of their travel journey. With this new technology, fliers will be able to quickly get through the airport without having to do this.

A New TSA PreCheck Technology

United Airlines recently announced this new change in their TSA PreCheck services. “We recently launched TSA PreCheck® Touchless ID at O’Hare International Airport, which allows travelers* to seamlessly drop off their bags and make it quickly through security – all without having to present an ID,” a United spokesperson said.

People walking in an airport with suitcases.

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According to United, this update to their service will only be available at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will have part of this service.


New Bag Drop Services

TSA PreCheck members know that, normally, when you arrive at the airport to drop off and check in your bags, you must have your boarding pass and proper identification. However, now, these fliers won’t necessarily need these identification items.

A close-up of a luggage bag at an airport, with people sitting and walking behind it.

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Instead, they will use Touchless ID. Once they head to the bag drop kiosk, they will have their photo taken. They will not have to show their own ID. Once their photo is taken, they will receive their bag tag.

A New Security System for TSA PreCheck Members

Security checkpoints are also changing for TSA PreCheck members, thanks to this new technology. Once fliers are done at the bag drop kiosk, they can head to the main security kiosk. They also won’t need their ID here.

A close-up of a person holding a passport and airline ticket with his bag, the inside of an airport seen in the distance.

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Instead, they can utilize Touchless ID. At the TSA PreCheck security point, they will allow their photo to be taken instead of showing their ID.

How to Use This Service

For those who enjoy the easy and quick process TSA PreCheck members tend to get, getting this service is simple. When fliers book or check into their flight, they must ensure they register with their Known Traveler Number (KTN).

A lot of people walk to the check-in area of an airport.

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Then, during booking and checking in, they must also make sure they have opted in to allow United Airlines to use facial scans on them. This facial scan replaces the use of an ID. Fliers who don’t opt into this will not be allowed to benefit from Touchless ID.

The Use of Facial Scans

The TSA has been upping the use of its facial recognition program in hundreds of airports around the United States for years now. Facial scanning has become controversial for many, especially as some people feel that it interferes with their right to privacy.

A walkway at an airport with many people walking around.

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Specifically, the use of facial recognition screenings at airports has resulted in critics worrying that it could increase discrimination in airports, among other concerns. Many, including politicians, have called for the TSA to stop using it.


Facial Scanning Is Becoming Regular at Airports

This new TSA PreCheck service offered by United Airlines utilizes facial scanning in place of employees looking at IDs. So, to use this new service, fliers will have to opt in and allow the TSA to scan their face at multiple checkpoints in the airport.

An overview of a large, busy airport with many people walking around.

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Some people may worry about this technology and how it’s used. Others may not care at all. Everybody is different in how they feel about facial recognition programs, but it’s important to understand what you’re allowing if you’re a TSA PreCheck member.


Touchless ID Differs From Regular TSA PreCheck

This new Touchless ID service does differ from regular TSA PreCheck services. However, Touchless ID kiosks will be located next to PreCheck lanes at the airport.

A person in an airport standing in front of a check-in area where many people are.

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For all intents and purposes, the Touchless ID kiosk will likely be quicker to use than the regular PreCheck line at bag drop. For those who want to get through the airport quickly, this service may be quite helpful. For those worried about facial scanning, regular TSA PreCheck lines may be all they need.


Other Airlines Have Touchless ID

United Airlines is just the latest airline to offer new tech services for TSA PreCheck members. Delta Airlines recently launched its Digital ID in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York. Delta Digitial ID offers much of the same services as United’s new program.

A Delta Airlines plane is seen on the tarmac from inside an airport, with empty seats all around.

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American Airlines also has their Mobile ID service that allows quicker checkpoint services thanks to facial scanning. As a result of this growing trend, many believe facial scanning will soon be the norm at airports.


TSA Wants a Better System

These new TSA security systems were designed to create a better experience at the airport for fliers, according to the TSA. Everybody knows that airports can be quite hectic. It can take a long time for many to get through the security checkpoints before they get on their flight.

A person sitting in an airport with empty seats all around him and windows in front of him.

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This new TSA service has been designed the change that. “The airport security experience that we’ve all come to know could soon look and feel a lot different — in a very good way — for both passengers and TSOs,” Christina Peach, TSA Innovation Task Forces’ branch manager, said.


United Airlines Will Slowly Roll Out Touchless ID

So far, United is only allowing their new Touchless ID service at Chicago and Los Angeles airports. United is the first airline to offer these types of services in these two airports.

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Though Touchless ID is starting in Chicago and Los Angeles, United says they will slowly roll the service so that it appears at all their other hubs. They believe this will be done throughout the rest of 2024.


Fliers Should Still Bring Their ID

Even though more and more airlines are moving to facial scanning — and moving away from looking at personal IDs — experts say that fliers should still bring proper identification to the airport.

A United Airlines plane flying over a body of water with hills and a cloudy sky behind it.

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Experts recommend that fliers continue to have their IDs handy, just in case. At the very least, travelers should keep bringing their IDs to airports until these services are fully implemented later this year.