JetBlue and Delta Are Testing Facial Recognition and Fingerprints to Replace Boarding Passes

Jun 01, 2017

We’re inching ever closer to Minority Report.

Yesterday, JetBlue announced that it will test a self-boarding process in which paper tickets are replaced with biometric facial recognition scans. Instead of handing over your ticket to a gate agent, a custom-designed camera will take your photo; The image is then sent to to U.S. authorities, who run it against a database of passport and visa photos. If the photos match, you’re good to board.

The opt-in pilot program starts this month on flights from Boston to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport. JetBlue said the goal is to speed up the boarding process while improving national security.

“We hope to learn how we can further reduce friction points in the airport experience, with the boarding process being one of the hardest to solve,” Joanna Geraghty, the company’s executive vice president of customer experience said in a statement.

Delta is also working to incorporate biometric data into airport procedures. The Atlanta-based airline said it will begin testing a program that allows SkyMile members to use their fingerprints to check bags and board flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

In addition, the company is installing a self-service bag drop kiosk at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which uses facial recognition technology to verify passengers’ passports (thereby allowing them to check bags without interacting with an agent).

"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," Gil West, Delta’s COO, said in a statement.

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