Two months ago, we reported on the first deployments of biometric technologies for passenger processing at some European airports and airlines. And now JetBlue and Delta are trying out similar methods in the U.S.
JetBlue said it will team up with airport technology specialist SITA and with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) beginning in June to test a “paperless and deviceless self-boarding process” for international flights from Boston to Aruba.
No enrollment or preregistration is required. Passengers who want to try the new facial recognition process for boarding without a boarding pass or a passport check will simply step up to a camera near the boarding gate and have their image captured.
“The custom-designed camera station will connect to CBP to instantly match the image to passport, visa or immigration photos in the CBP database and verify flight details,” JetBlue said. “The customer will be notified on an integrated screen above the camera when they are cleared to proceed to the jet bridge.”
Delta’s test at Washington Reagan National involves stored biometric fingerprints instead of facial recognition. Participation is limited to SkyMiles members who are enrolled in the CLEAR trusted traveler program, in which Delta holds an equity stake. CLEAR members already have their digitized fingerprints stored in the system.
In the first phase of Delta’s test at DCA, already underway, participants can use fingerprints as a proof of identity at the Delta Sky Club instead of showing a boarding pass or ID. In the next phase, the fingerprint scan could also be used to check a bag and board a flight. The DCA test will help Delta fine-tune the integration of its own passenger database with CLEAR’s member records and biometrics.
And this summer, Delta plans to use facial recognition technology at one of four self-service bag-drop stations it is installing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. That device will provide identification verification by matching customers’ digital images with their passport photos.
“We’re rapidly moving toward a day when your fingerprint, iris or face will become the only ID you’ll need for any number of transactions throughout a given day,” said Gil West, Delta’s chief operating officer.
How do you feel about this new tech? A great convenience, or an invasion of privacy? Please leave your comments below.