A new biometric boarding test enables international travelers to board their flights without showing passports or boarding passes, relying instead on a quick photo taken at the final gate. The facial recognition process does not negate the need for passengers to pass earlier security checks before head to their flights, but it does promise a quicker, more efficient loading of travelers.
The Orlando test comes amid similar British Airways biometric authentication efforts at New York’s JFK airport and Miami International Airport
The newest test of “biometric boarding” is taking place at Orlando International Airport and involves British Airways, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and SITA, a communications and I.T. solution provider for airlines. The program so far applies only to passengers traveling from Orlando to London Gatwick airport on flight BA 2036. Two gates reportedly have the capability to biometrically authenticate passengers via facial recognition.
Passengers must still show IDs such as passports and boarding passes to gain entry past general security gates in the airport. But once at the gate, passengers on the relevant U.S.-to-U.K. flight need only look into a camera and wait for facial recognition software to confirm their identities before being allow on the airplane.
Early success for biometric boarding
“The trial will run for up to 90 days,” SITA says in a March 8 statement. “Participation is optional and passengers can choose to provide their passport and other documents to an agent to board the flight. During the early days of the trial, the response from passengers has been very positive with nearly 100 percent of passengers opting to simply look in the camera and board the plane.”
This method of biometric authentication saves notable time for airlines, both SITA and British Airways say. Tests for far have resulted in the boarding of 240 passengers in 10 minutes.
The Orlando test comes amid similar British Airways biometric authentication efforts at New York’s JFK airport and Miami International Airport. And other airlines and airports are also testing the efficiency and appeal of using biometric boarding and authentication including facial recognition to ease traveler burdens and save time for security officials. Among the most notable recent efforts is taking place in Dubai, where new biometric kiosks promise to reduce the hassles of boarding for many passengers, and help to ensure that the facility remains among the most advanced when it comes to speeding travelers through lines.