An upcoming trial in the US could see passengers sail through the boarding process without needing to break out their passports, or their paper/digital boarding passes. JetBlue Airways is to become the first airline to work with the US Customs & Border Patrol in using facial recognition technology to validate passenger identities at the departure gate.

JetBlue has partnered with the US Customs & Border Patrol and IT company SITA to test passenger verification using photo match technology at the departure gate. The opt-in test program is due to start later this month on flights from Boston to the Caribbean island of Aruba, with passengers able to take advantage of the new system without needing to pre-register.

Rather than hand over a boarding pass to staff at the counter, customers will simply step in front of a custom camera to be verified. "Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks," said JetBlue's Joanna Geraghty. "Just look into the camera and you're on your way."

Once an passenger image is captured, the camera station connects to the US Customs & Border Patrol's database to match the photo with a passport, visa or immigration documents. Passengers given the all clear on a screen above the camera can then board the plane.

The process will also see members of the crew, who would usually be stood behind the gate counter, mingle with the opt-in passengers, monitoring the flow using iPad minis while engaging with customers.

It is hoped that a successful outcome will lead to an improved customer experience, as well as enhanced security.

Source: JetBlue

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