American Airlines is the latest carrier to trial biometrics at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Passengers travelling on select international departures from LAX Terminal 4 can make use of facial recognition technology at the boarding gate.
The technology scans and verifies the passenger’s identity with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in seconds. When travellers begin the boarding process, the facial recognition system scans an image of their face and sends it to an existing cloud-based CBP database. The system then instantly matches the image against the passport photo already on file with CBP and quickly sends back a yes or no determination on whether they are cleared to board.
According to the airline, agents will continue to ensure passengers have their passports with them before departing. Passengers may also choose not to use the new system and board using their regular boarding pass.
The pilot programme will be used at LAX for 90 days as American evaluates its potential expansion to more flights and locations throughout its global network.
“LAX is American’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, making it the perfect location for American to launch biometric boarding,” said Suzanne Boda, Senior Vice President of Los Angeles at American. “The goal of the new technology is to provide a more efficient, modern experience for our customers and team members while enhancing aviation security. That is exactly what we’ve been working to do here in Los Angeles.”
Gemalto is the biometric technology provider for the trial and the company’s SVP of Government Programs, Neville Pattinson, commented: “Being able to use your face instead of your boarding pass will not only enhance security but allow passengers to board more easily and quickly. The passenger process is changing globally and we are pleased to be on the leading edge of this change by enabling our partners to offer improved service and security with our biometric capabilities.”
The pilot programme at LAX is flexible with regards to space limitations and future options as the solution has been integrated into the existing agent podium to facilitate boarding. Passengers simply approach the gate and receive confirmation via a computer screen and camera following a facial verification from CBP’s Traveler Verification Services. Once verified, the captured images will be wiped from the system to ensure privacy for all passengers.