Airline wants to scan your face instead of your boarding pass

JetBlue wants to scan passengers’ faces to board a plane.
JetBlue wants to scan passengers’ faces to board a plane. AP

JetBlue Airways is experimenting with technology that will scan passengers’ faces instead of of a boarding pass to let them onto a plane.

The airline is collaborating with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and technology company SITA to use biometric scans as a boarding mechanism. The pilot project will start in June and will be used on flights from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport.

People will have their photo taken by a camera in the boarding area, which will then be scanned against the CBP database to locate a matching passport, visa or immigration photo. Passengers will then be notified on a screen above the camera that they are free to board the plane.

Customers can opt in to the new process and those who do will stand in a separate line to board. JetBlue anticipates the facial scans will be quicker than the traditional boarding pass scanning process, so the line will move quicker.

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

Geraghty told the Boston Globe that a similar photo process could be implemented at other parts of the travel process, like checking in for a flight, dropping off bags and customs.

Delta is experimenting with facial recognition at baggage drop at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The $600,000 test aims to eliminate any need to interact with airline employees, allowing passengers to scan their faces and then drop their bags without any assistance. Only people with valid U.S. passports can participate, the Star Tribune reports.

Using facial scans at baggage drop is also an effort to save people time, Delta said.

European airline KLM began testing face scans at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in February, according to Bloomberg.