JetBlue will soon let some customers use selfies instead of boarding passes to board a flight.
On Wednesday, the company announced it was partnering with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and SITA, a company specializing in aviation IT, to be the first airline to use biometric facial recognition technology to match a person's identity with their ticket.
Here's how it works: When boarding a plane, a customer can opt to simply step up to a camera and have his or her picture taken, instead of scanning a boarding pass. The picture is then sent to the CBP database where it is matched with visa, passport, or immigration photos. Flight details for the passenger are also verified at the same time. A screen above the camera will let the passenger know when they have been cleared to board.
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JetBlue said in a press statement that the process will enable its employees to get out from behind the counter and interact with the guests. The airline is equipping its employees with iPad Minis so that they can manage the check-in process while staying mobile, the company said.
The pilot program will launch in June, but it will only be available on flights from Boston's Logan International Airport to Aruba's Queen Beatrix International Airport. Any customer on this flight can participate and no prior registration or enrollment is required, the airline said.
While JetBlue is the first airline to use biometric facial recognition to enable people to board planes, other carriers are also experimenting with the tech for other solutions.
Delta announced earlier this month that it plans to begin testing a system that uses facial recognition to speed up the process of checking their bags this summer.
The company is using new automated baggage machines at its Minneapolis/St. Paul hub. These machines, which have the facial recognition tech built-in, take a picture of the person dropping the bags off. The picture is then matched with a person's passport image to identify them and sync with their boarding ticket.
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