SITA and British Airways trialing biometric boarding at Orlando International Airport

Biometric boarding is now available to passengers flying from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick aboard British Airways. SITA is providing the technology to enable boarding with a photograph at the gate for facial recognition, and without the use of a passport or boarding pass, according to the announcement.

SITA integrated the automated boarding gates with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and British Airways IT systems as part of a joint initiative by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), the airline, and CBP.

“This innovative boarding process is already proving popular with passengers,” says GOAA Chief Information Officer John Newsome. “They simply look at the camera and within seconds the gate opens and they can board the flight. It is easy, fast and most importantly, secure. While we are currently using SITA’s gates for biometric exit with British Airways, they are common-use boarding gates so they can be easily used by other airlines at MCO.”
The system is being operated as a 90-day trial with optional participation, and SITA says nearly 100 percent of passengers have opted to use the self-service solution.

“We are working closely with the US CBP, airlines and airports to test different ways of doing the US biometric exit check,” says Diana Einterz, SITA President, Americas. “This includes our recent award-winning work with JetBlue at Boston Logan International Airport, and British Airways at Los Angeles International Airport. We have designed this solution to meet the needs of all parties. It is based on industry-standard common-use gates so it can be used by any other airline at Orlando and by airlines at any other common-use airport.”

CBP is looking into ways to expand its use of facial recognition following the successful trial of biometrics-based boarding at Boston Logan International Airport, which improved passenger processing speeds, and for which SITA recently won an Airline Industry Achievement Award.

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