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Travelers undergo security checks at Denver International Airport on June 29, 2021. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

After the Transportation Security Administration deployed a new security system, Coloradans have been running into problems in airports across the country with their driver’s licenses not scanning at checkpoints, causing delays to their travels.

Now, TSA officials say the issue is fixed for almost everyone in the state. So what caused the hiccup for Colorado IDs in the first place? We still don’t know for sure. Here’s what we do know. 

When did all the problems begin?

TSA first began using its new security system, called Credential Authentication Technology, or CAT, in very few airports in about 2015. Then during the pandemic, it ramped up deployment of the technology and installed units across the country. They are currently in more than half of the federal airports.

It’s not clear exactly when TSA learned about the issue with Colorado IDs, but The Colorado Sun began seeing reports as travel ramped up amid lessening concerns over COVID-19.   

Earlier this year, dozens of Coloradans told The Sun about their travel woes, saying many TSA agents seemed to expect the problem whenever they saw Colorado IDs. 

The CAT system allows travelers to only show their driver’s licenses when going through security checkpoints, rather than having to also show a boarding pass. Then it checks the ID with a database of ticketed travelers over that 24-hour period.

When the CAT won’t scan a Colorado ID, agents are instructed to manually check the person’s boarding pass and ID. While some people told The Sun they only needed to show their boarding passes to enter the terminal, others reported more significant delays, such as being told to step aside for additional security measures or to return to the airline counter.

What do we know about what’s causing the issue specifically for Coloradans?

Lorie Dankers, a spokeswoman for TSA, said she doesn’t know exactly what’s causing the problems, just that a database update was needed. Other states have had similar issues, she said, with at least one being because of a design flaw in the IDs. 

“I don’t have any information that it was a design flaw. Whether it was or wasn’t, the underlying message is this has been taken care of for the vast majority of people,” she said about the issue for travelers carrying Colorado IDs. 

The problem may be related to IDs issued during a certain time period, she said.


So who is still going to be impacted?

The vast majority of Coloradans should not have a problem, Dankers said. But the few people who still run into the glitch will likely be those who have seen it before. 

Dankers said on a recent visit to the Denver International Airport, she witnessed about 40 IDs being scanned by the CAT system with only two not automatically being accepted.

Will it ever be fully fixed?

Dankers said the goal of TSA is to continue updating its system until no one with a Colorado ID is delayed at a checkpoint.

Elliott Wenzler is a reporter for the Colorado Sun, covering local politics, the state legislature and other topics. She also assists with The Unaffiliated newsletter. Previously, she was a community reporter in Douglas County for Colorado Community...