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British Airways is testing biometric technology for its boarding and arrivals processes at airports in Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami and New York.
The airline is working in partnership with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and technology partner SITA to install and test the biometric boarding gates in an effort to speed up the boarding process.
The gates remove the need for passengers to present their boarding pass and passport at the departure gate. Passengers look into a camera, wait for their biometric data to be verified and board the aircraft.
Similar to facial identification built into some smartphones, the biometric e-gates – developed by SITA – use high-definition cameras to match passengers’ facial features with their passport, visa or immigration photos.
BA claims gates installed in Los Angeles in November 2017 resulted in the airline boarding more than 400 customers in 22 minutes – less than half the usual boarding time.
The airline says security is at the core of the technology and that it has been working closely with US CBP to ensure compliance with privacy rules and regulations.
Two of the gates have been installed on one stand at Orlando International airport, with passengers flying on the daily flight BA2036 to Gatwick able to use the technology. Customer service agents will still be on hand to help travellers when required, according to BA.
Similar gates are being tested for passengers arriving at Miami and New York JFK from Heathrow, allowing their data to be captured on arrival to avoid swiping documents and taking finger prints with CBP agents at the border.
The new US trials add to technology already in place for BA’s domestic flights from Heathrow Terminal 5.