The future of airport security is here, and it’s about as 21st-century as you can get. Introducing “selfie boarding”, the new technology that allows you to check into your flight simply by taking a picture of yourself.
Formally known as biometric facial recognition, the process is pretty straight-forward. Passengers who have opted in to the new program will have their photo taken at the gate, where it is then sent to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), matched to whatever identification exists in the CBP database, and used to verify flight details. When the passengers have been cleared, they are free to board their flight —without ever having to present a boarding pass.
JetBlue is the first airline to work with CBP in implementing biometric check-in. Starting this June, the new technology will be introduced on flights from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport. Any passengers who want to opt in will be able to do so without having to pre-register.
“This biometric self-boarding program for JetBlue and the CBP is designed to be easy to use. What we want to deliver is a secure and seamless passenger experience,” said Jim Peters, chief technology officer at SITA, which worked on the program with JetBlue and CBP. “This is the first integration of biometric authorization by the CBP with an airline and may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across U.S. airports.”
Biometric ID is the latest in a series of innovative technologies used by JetBlue and other airlines to facilitate self-service, such as self-bag tagging, queue-less lobbies, and interactive check-in kiosks. Delta is even introducing a “selfie bag-drop” of sorts, wherein passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will be able to drop off their luggage using facial recognition technology.
JetBlue marks the first official time biometric check-in has been cleared with CBP systems, but the actual technology has already been implemented at airports around the world. Brisbane Airport is partnering with SITA (a specialist in air transport communications and technology) and Air New Zealand to launch a trial of the SITA Smart Path facial recognition technology. And as recently as March, British Airways started scanning faces at London Heathrow Airport to enable no-documentation boarding.
While the main goal of using biometric ID is that it will smooth out the travel process, specialists have raised other potential benefits to using the technology such as, a more reliable form of identification that could strengthen national security. Another benefit: This technology could soon eradicate passports. Say goodbye to the tedious passport renewal process once and for all.