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SITA Smart Path biometrics launched for domestic US passengers as airport investments accelerate


airport facial recognition masks

SITA has announced a new deployment of its face biometrics for several domestic passenger processes, while Tampa is currently installing biometric gates. Updates have also been provided for NEC India’s Digi Yatra contract and Spirit Airlines plans in Atlanta.

SITA Smart Path launched at SFO

A fast track solution allowing passengers to use their face biometrics as a boarding pass from check-in to flight boarding is being launched for domestic United Airlines passengers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) through SITA’s Smart Path.

During the trial, participating passengers will be able to link their driver’s license to their face through a biometric scan at check-in, and then use their face for bag drop and security check processes. SITA says the biometric implementation is a first for U.S. domestic air travel.

More than half of international flights at SFO used biometrics for boarding in 2020, according to the announcement.

“United has been a leader in providing a touchless experience for our customers – from our longtime and ongoing partnership with CLEAR, to being the first airline to implement touchless kiosks in our check-in lobbies,” says United Airlines VP of Airport Operations at SFO Lori Augustine. “We are looking forward to participating in this trial with SITA and exploring new technology that will help inform our biometric offerings in the future, as well as offer our domestic customers a frictionless experience as they travel through SFO.”

In addition to a smooth passenger journey, the biometrics implementation is intended to reduce touch-points and potential COVID-19 transmission.

Tampa launching facial recognition security checks, boarding

Tampa International Airport (TPA) is investing in face biometrics at departure gates for touchless security checks and flight boarding, Tampa Bay Business Journal reports.

The launch will include U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Biometric Exit system, and TPA and CBP piloted similar technology at TPA in 2019. The pilot cost $1 million, according to the report.

A biometric system was installed in the customs area of TPA in late-March, and the airport plans to install 11 biometric gates by the summer.

TPA is in the process of expanding its international connections, the Business Journal says.

Digi Yatra trial of NEC biometrics underway at Varanasi

NEC India has launched trials of its face biometrics for airport staff at Varanasi airport under the Digi Yatra scheme, with passenger trials beginning this month, The Hindu reports.

Pradeep Kushwaha, NEC India’s head of public safety, told the publication that the work, under a contract it won in late-2019, will also reach the passenger trial stage within the next three months at Vijayawada, Pune and Kolkata airports.

Proof-of-concepts involving NEC’s biometrics are currently underway at Delhi and Kochi airports, and one has already been completed at Hyderabad, and Kushwaha emphasized facial recognition’s potential for a range of airport applications.

Spirit to bring biometric bag drop to Atlanta

Spirit Airlines is planning to launch its biometric bag drop at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in late-2021 or early-2022, reports Aviation Pros.

The discount carrier, which has already launched biometric technology for passenger check-ins at Chicago O’Hare and New York LaGuardia airports, is expanding its presence in the airport with more gates as traffic recovers. Spirit currently operates from two preferential use gates and seven or eight common-use gates at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Spirit also launched Amadeus’ Biopods for biometric boarding at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport late last year.

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