San Jose airport pilots CLEAR iris and fingerprint recognition technologies

July 27, 2015 - 

Alaska Airlines is nearly four months into a new pilot program in which it is using CLEAR’s biometric authentication technology to verify the identities of frequent travellers flying out of Mineta San Jose International Airport instead of checking their IDs and boarding passes, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News.

The pilot project, which quietly launched in April, uses CLEAR’s iris recognition and fingerprint recognition technologies to authorize the identities of 200 frequent travellers departing from the San Jose airport when checking in bags, going through airport security and boarding planes.

It marks the first program of its kind in the country, and Alaska Airlines officials are hoping it will eventually become a regular practice for the majority of their customers.

CLEAR is currently operating out of 12 domestic airports throughout the country, charging members a $179 annual fee to bypass security lines in exchange of subjecting themselves to additional advance screening.

Though CLEAR members are still required to present their boarding passes, those individuals participating in the Alaska Airlines pilot program are able to swipe their fingers on a tablet instead of showing their boarding passes.

Last year, the airline installed fingerprint scanners that enabled flyers access to its club lounges in Seattle, Anchorage, Portland and Los Angeles.

Alaska Airline employees invited frequent flyer customers to join the program, in person, at San Jose airport, as well as via email.

So far, the program has had a few issues, such as passengers forgetting their seat number as a result of not having immediate access to their boarding pass and CLEAR’s fingerprint scanners sometimes experiencing technical problems.

Despite many security experts not being entirely sold on how secure biometric technology is, CLEAR is confident about the technology.

The company has a failure rate of less than 1 percent when recording fingerprints and iris scans, said CLEAR CEO Caryn Seidman Becker, who added that CLEAR hopes to deliver the technology to other markets.

“We have no specific timeline, but we look forward to working with Alaska Airlines to expand our relationship to other cities in their network,” said Ken Cornick, CLEAR president and CFO. “Having direct access to a boarding pass and not needing to print it or download it onto their phone is both a significant customer advantage and security advantage.”

Previously reported, CLEAR launched in April its security clearance services, which verify travelers’ identities through fingerprint and iris scans, for enrolled members at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.