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JetBlue is using facial recognition to replace boarding passes

Published May 31st, 2017 10:34PM EDT
JetBlue Face Recognition Flight Boarding
Image: DE CARDENAS/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Boarding passes can be so annoying. You have to either print them or load them up in your app so you can board your flight. But what if there was an easier way to do it? JetBlue thinks that a photo of you should be enough to let you board a plane, and it’s kicking off a program for it.

JetBlue on Wednesday announced that customers who opt-in the program will no longer have to worry about printed boarding passes or digital versions. Instead, a quick photo match at the gate will verify the identity of the customer.

JetBlue is partnering with US Customs and Border Protection and SITA for the pilot program, which will be available on flights from Boston to Aruba this June.

All you’ll have to do to board the plane using your face is to opt-in during the actual boarding process. After that, you’ll have to step up to a custom-designed camera station that will take a picture of you and compare it to your passport photo.

“This biometric self-boarding program for JetBlue and the CBP is designed to be easy to use,” SITA CTO Jim Peters said. “What we want to deliver is a secure and seamless passenger experience. We use sophisticated technologies to enable biometric checks and for CBP authorization to be sent quickly to the airline’s systems. This is the first integration of biometric authorization by the CBP with an airline and may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across US airports.”

Once cleared, a customer will be notified to proceed to the jet bridge. JetBlue employees will thus be able to get out from behind the counter and interact with passengers.

If the pilot program is successful, it could be expanded to other flights, although JetBlue did not reveal any other details. What the company did say is that it plans to further reduce wait lines with the help of technology. The airline recently debuted other self-service options for passengers, including self-bag tagging and self-bag-drop.

This particular program is also expected to help the CBP test these advanced biometric technologies in airports to streamline the travel process.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.