The technology was first piloted at the departure gates of Emirates' flights to New York and Los Angeles during the peak travel period of July and August
Dubai-based Emirates has become the first foreign airline to receive approval for biometric boarding from US Customs Border Protection (CBP), it was announced on Saturday.
As part of the programme, Emirates passengers flying to any of the airline’s 12 American destinations will be able to choose facial recognition technology at the departure gates, reducing the time needed for identity checks to under 2 seconds.
No pre-registration is required to take-part, and customers may also elect not to use the technology. All the data is managed security by CBP, rather than by Emirates.
The technology was first piloted at the departure gates of Emirates’ flights to New York and Los Angeles during the peak travel period of July and August. According to Emirates, the results were “encouraging”, with some flights achieving 100 percent biometric boarding and zero manual checks.
Emirates expects the biometric boarding to be available on all its flights to the US by the end of the year, once the necessary equipment is in place.
To use the biometric boarding system, passengers have their photo taken, which is then matched against CBP’s data in real-time to verify the person’s identity in under 2 seconds. The system may not work for those who haven’t travelled to the US for a long time or whose image is not yet in the CBP’s gallery.
“Safety and security will always remain our number one priority, as Emirates continues to explore and invest in innovative solutions for hassle-free travel that help our customers fly better,” said Dr. Abdulla Al Hashimi. “Our ultimate aim is to help our passengers travel paperless, without the need for passports and IDS.”
Al Hashimi added that “biometric boarding is one more step in streamlining processes at our hub using digital technology, saving our customers time and giving them peace of mind.”
“We are talking with authorities of several countries to make security using facial recognition technology more acceptable and accessible,” he said.
In June, Emirates implemented biometric boarding for passengers on its Washington-Dubai flights.
Emirates currently flies to 12 US cities: New York, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
Emirates first foreign airline to start biometric boarding for US flights.