JetBlue Airways Corp. and Delta Air Lines Inc. will test facial- and fingerprint-recognition technology at two U.S. airports to replace boarding passes, building on industry efforts to increase security and ease passage through airports.
The JetBlue program will start next month on flights from Boston to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport, the airline said in a statement Wednesday. It will match passenger photos to their passport or visa photos. Delta has been trying fingerprint identification in Washington that may eventually replace boarding passes.
The testing highlights efforts by carriers to speed customers through congested airports while increasing security. Europe’s KLM airline in February began using face-scanning technology for boarding at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Delta this month said it would attempt a self-serve process for checking bags at one airport using facial recognition.
“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, JetBlue’s executive vice president for customer experience, said in the statement.
JetBlue passengers will be able to participate without enrolling or registering in advance.
A custom-designed camera will take a photo and transmit it to U.S. authorities to compare against databases of passport, visa and immigration images. A display above the camera will notify travelers when they can board. New York-based JetBlue is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and SITA, an information-technology provider for airlines.
“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,” Jim Peters, SITA’s chief technology officer, said in the statement.
Delta has been testing the use of fingerprints at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to allow some SkyMiles members entry to its Sky Club lounges. A second stage would enable participants to also check a bag and board a flight using their fingerprint instead of an identification card and boarding pass. Delta’s tests are limited to SkyMiles members who also are enrolled in Clear, a subscription service that uses biometrics to help process passengers through some airport checkpoints.
“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 chief operating officer, said in the statement.
Clear is expanding at major U.S. airports with lanes using fingerprints or iris scans to check members’ identities. The service can be used to eliminate the need for initial identity checks and boarding passes.