Biometrics have come a long way, to make the airline process both more complex (looking at you TSA) and easier. Now, there’s a new step: Jetblue will be the first airline connecting with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and their facial recognition to board passengers at gates. Read on for more!
What are the changes?
No more paper or electronic boarding pass! Simply take a photo with the camera (actual camera, not a selfie), where CBP will match your photo to their database. This “selfie boarding” system verifies flight details and will notify travelers when cleared. This sounds like an efficient process, to eliminate scanning and checking of passports. Expand this to the check-in procedures, and you’re well on your way to saving plenty of time.
Self-service and automation is a big part of making the world a more efficient place – such as self-check-in kiosks and luggage handling/bag drop. This lowers line lengths and times, and saves both consumers plenty of time, and money as well, if the airlines would pass on their savings. By having people do plenty of their own boarding process, airlines can save both real estate space (check in desks) and labor hours.
Where can I find this “Selfie” Boarding?
The new biometric self-boarding process starts in June, from Boston to Aruba. It requires no pre-registering and frees up JetBlue personnel to provide more personalized customer service. A refreshing change of waiting in a stuffy line to ask questions of the bored, exhausted, unfriendly customer service.
I’m sure these changes will lead to some concerns in the public, but in airports you are screened and photographed anyway. Your passport is already on file, and I do not see a difference taking a photo at the airport and compare it to the database, versus a person visually matching the passport.
Future & Conclusion
The expansion of biometrics could further expedite travel. For example, Joe Leader, CEO of the Airline Passenger Experience Association, suggests that biometric identification could have a similar “pre-clearance” program as TSA pre-check, where these travelers who have passed security checks be allowed to carry electronics, and circumvent the controversial electronics ban. Hopefully this technology gets expanded to other airlines and routes, as I am all in favor of anything that makes the flying experience more enjoyable and speedy.
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