BA to speed up boarding with biometrics technology at Orlando Airport

Passengers flying with British Airways (BA) from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick can now enjoy a secure and seamless departure with new biometric boarding at the gate. SITA has integrated automated boarding gates with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and BA’s IT systems to allow the necessary check and authorise boarding.

This is a joint initiative by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), British Airways and CBP to incorporate the US biometric departure check for passengers as smoothly as possible. SITA has ensured fast and easy implementation for the airport and airline. By merging usual boarding procedures with the CBP biometric exit check, the initiative is delivering a smooth experience for passengers. A quick photograph being taken at the gate is used to confirm passengers’ identities and authorisation to travel.

John Newsome, Chief Information Officer, GOAA, said: “This innovative boarding process is already proving popular with passengers. They simply look at the camera and within seconds the gate opens and they can board the flight. It is easy, fast and most importantly, secure. While we are currently using SITA’s gates for biometric exit with British Airways, they are common-use boarding gates so they can be easily used by other airlines at MCO.”

Raoul Cooper, Digital Airport Design Manager, British Airways, added: “Our customers are always our first priority and we want to make their journey as smooth as possible. Working closely with SITA at Orlando has allowed us to explore various ways of incorporating the US biometric exit check. Together we have designed a really smooth and secure departure process for our customers, including children, as they leave Orlando. This complements the learning and insight we have gained in Los Angeles where a similar technology trial is under way.”

The trial of the biometric boarding, available now to British Airways passengers on flight BA 2036 to London Gatwick, will run up to 90 days. Participation is optional and passengers can choose to provide their passport and other documents to an agent to board the flight. During the early days of the trial, the response from passengers has been very positive with nearly 100% passengers opting to simply look in the camera and board the plane.

Diana Einterz, SITA President, Americas, said: “We are working closely with the US CBP, airlines and airports to test different ways of doing the US biometric exit check. This includes our recent award-winning work with JetBlue at Boston Logan International Airport, and British Airways at Los Angeles International Airport. We have designed this solution to meet the needs of all parties. It is based on industry-standard common-use gates so it can be used by any other airline at Orlando and by airlines at any other common-use airport.”