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JetBlue to roll out self-boarding program using facial recognition technology


JetBlue will partner with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and SITA to test a new “paperless and deviceless self-boarding process” as part of ongoing trials to implement a biometric exit process in the future.

The move comes a couple of months after the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency updated the industry on its plans for biometric exit since it issued its initial request for information (RFI), CBP OIT Biometric Exit Acquisition last June, emphasizing that it will “continue to engage with industry regarding biometric exit”.

JetBlue said it will be the first airline to integrate with CBP to use biometrics and facial recognition technology to identify and verify customers at the gate during boarding.

Starting in June on all flights from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport, the voluntary program enables passengers to participate without any prior enrollment or registration.

Passengers who opt in during the boarding process can simply step up to the camera for a quick photo at the gate instead of showing their boarding passes or devices to a customer representative.

The custom-designed camera station will connect to CBP to automatically match the image to passport, visa or immigration photos in the CBP database and verify flight details.

The passenger will be prompted on an integrated screen above the camera to proceed to the jet bridge.

JetBlue crew members will be equipped with iPad minis to help customers, enabling them to monitor and manage the boarding process.

“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,” said Joanna Geraghty, executive vice president customer experience at JetBlue. “Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks. Just look into the camera and you’re on your way.”

SITA is providing the technology and connectivity to conduct facial capture and integration with the CBP database as well as integration with JetBlue’s departure control system.

If the program is successful, it will reinforce how technology can facilitate a seamless boarding process for the traveler while improving U.S. national security through the implementation of biometric exit.

“CBP looks forward to engaging closely with air travel partners, like JetBlue, to better understand how CBP’s biometric exit program will support their efforts to streamline the travel process by using advanced biometric technology,” said John Wagner, deputy executive assistant commissioner at CBP’s Office of Field Operations. “By transforming current business operations, airlines and airports will have the opportunity to use verified biometrics to ensure a seamless and consistent process for travelers.”

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