TSA adding black lights to screen passengers' ID cards

Oct. 18--D/FW AIRPORT -- Under a black light, hard-to-reproduce holograms on identification cards, such as the Texas driver's license, become visible.

There on your driver's license, for example, a bunch of little yellow "TEXAS" holograms appear.

Different cards have different identifiers. (The Swiss identification card has a cobalt blue fishnet design. In the photo area is a second green-yellow hologram: "SCHWEIZ, SUISSE, SVIZZERA, SVIZRA, SWITZERLAND.")

The Transportation Security Administration, which has taken over document-ticket screening at U.S. airports, is rolling out small black lights and loupes (magnifying lenses) to 1,300 specially trained screeners who check suspicious IDs in the ticket lines.

Airline contractors did the preliminary driver's license checks at major airports until August. Until then, the TSA had no occasions in the security process to vet people's IDs against their boarding passes.

"The TSA in the past few years has been creating extra layers of security beyond the checkpoint," TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said. The checks for falsified documents are being added to screening outside the security lanes that looks for suspicious behavior, McCauley said.

More training for document-ticket checkers is necessary because of the variety of IDs that come through a major international airport like Dallas/Fort Worth.

Is this a response to a specific threat or incident?


Which IDs are checked with the black light?

Any identification card that the TSA document-ticket checker deems out of the ordinary will be checked with the black light and loupe.

What if, after it's checked, my ID is still considered suspicious?

If ID issued can't be resolved by the document-ticket checker, local law enforcement will be called. (In the case of D/FW, that means the airport police.)

Will this make the security process different or longer?

Most passengers won't need such a check. However, remember that the document-ticket checker is no longer an airline contractor but a federal security officer. Calm, courteous behavior will probably work best to avoid confrontations. TSA officials say there have been no problems between passengers and screeners at pilot programs in Phoenix, New York Kennedy and Baltimore airports. Officials have noted that many passengers do not arrive at the checkpoints prepared (with ID and boarding pass handy).

Do you need a photo ID to fly?

No, but you'll undergo "secondary screening," the more involved screening that some passengers find time-consuming and/or invasive. If many passengers arrive without IDs, that would add to wait times, officials said.


Bryon Okada, 817-390-7752


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