Biometric Facial Recognition Technology Piloted at LAX

New biometric boarding technology that uses a passengers’ face as their boarding pass is being pilot tested at Los Angeles International Airport.

Being launched at LAX in conjunction with digital security firm Gemalto, the technology is located in terminal 4, which serves American Airlines and Quantas flights.

The high-tech machines, designed to enhance both passenger convenience and the overall security of the flight process, are being tested in response to a Customs and Border Patrol directive requiring identity verification for all international passengers. The technology operates by cross-referencing a scan of a passengers’ face with a gallery of file images, Nicole Williams, Gemalto’s director of government programs, told TravelPulse.

“There is a mandate in place that all foreign nationals be identified at the gate,” said Williams. “This pilot is being conducted in conjunction with that directive.”

The pilot test is scheduled to last for 90 days, but it’s not clear if the biometric scanners will remain in place or their use expanded, at the end of the three-month trial.

The world of travel is changing rapidly, and with air traffic expected to double and reach 7.8 billion passengers by 2036, airlines and airports are innovating to meet new government and consumer demands for enhanced security and efficiency.

Gemalto aims to satisfy these needs with its biometric boarding technology.

“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,” said Neville Pattinson, Gemalto’s SVP of Government Programs.

Williams added that the biometric technology also alleviates the burden on gate agents to conduct passenger security screening.

“They are not having to be an expert on whether a document is valid,” added Williams. “But the ultimate premise of this pilot is to increase customer service.”

The biometric technology at the Los Angeles airport has been integrated into the existing agent podium. Passengers will approach the gate and receive confirmation via a computer screen and camera following a facial verification from Customs and Border Protection’s Traveler Verification Services.

Once verified, the captured images will be wiped from the system to ensure privacy for all passengers.

“All international flights at some point will begin using biometric boarding,” said Williams. “No timeline or deadline has been given for that by Customs and Border Patrol, but this is what’s coming and it will be the new passenger experience in various forms.”

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