Traveling through the world’s airports has never been simple. Just this week, the Trump Administration announced a new procedure in which visa applicants must provide years worth of social media history, among other hassles. But a new technology may help get passengers on their way more quickly, and maybe even reduce stress if it works properly and passengers are ok with its privacy implications.
Facial recognition technology is coming to an airport near you.
JetBlue announced a plan to use the face scanning technology in lieu of traditional boarding passes. The airline is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in flights between Boston’s Logan International Airport and Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport.
Here’s how it works. When you’re in line to board the flight, your face will be scanned and compared to the photo on your passport.
Executive vice president customer experience at JetBlue, Joanna Geraghty, recently broke down the procedure for better understanding.
“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. Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks. Just look into the camera and you’re on your way,”said Geraghty.
The plan is to use this technology for all passengers, not just foreign travelers with a passport and visa, in America in the future.
JetBlue isn’t the first to incorporate facial recognition technology. Delta is adding the strategy to the way it is handling bag checking. Travelers who wish to check bags will print tags at Delta kiosks before heading over to machines that match them with their passport photos using identification verification.
— Appleton Airport (@ATWairport) May 24, 2017
And this process isn’t just happening in America. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection announced a while back the intent to the use facial recognition technology along with fingerprint scanners to identify passengers in Australian airports by 2020. Finnair is running a 1,000-person test using a bit of a different method for facial recognition. Airport workers will then check passengers’ documents to determine the accuracy of the system. Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport and Dutch airline KLM are among the others in the group testing new technology.
The main sentiment across airlines appears to be the same: the biometric self-service machines are going to save customers time and free airline employees to work on other issues.
However, there is some concern about how accurate these new procedures will be. Apparently the facial recognition technology doesn’t recognize all people will the same accuracy. White women and black people aren’t as easily recognized as white men, meaning there could be some mismatching of identities. Some are also concerned that this is crossing the line in terms of passenger privacy.
— PrivacyDigest (@PrivacyDigest) May 20, 2017
Even with these concerns hovering on the horizon, there appears to be no way around it. Facial recognition technology will be in an airport near you before you know it, so practice that smile before catching your flight.