Boarding a jetliner is now as easy as stepping in front of a camera. Paperless and deviceless self-boarding is what Jet Blue calls it in announcing that the airline will be the first to partner with U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to use biometrics and facial recognition technology to verify customers at the gate during boarding.
“CBP looks forward to engaging closely with air travel partners like JetBlue to better understand how CBP’s biometric exit program will support their efforts to streamline the travel process,” said John Wagner, deputy executive assistant commissioner in CBP’s office of field operations.
The test program will start in June on flights from Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA). Customers can participate without any prior enrollment or registration.
“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 of customer experience. “Self-boarding eliminates boarding-pass scanning and manual passport checks. Just look into the camera and you’re on your way.”
A custom-designed camera instantly connects to CBP to match a customer’s image to passport, visa or immigration photos in the CBP database and verify flight details. With a positive match, a screen above the camera then flashes the OK for boarding.
JetBlue will issue iPad minis to crew members, allowing them to monitor and manage the boarding process while interacting with customers.
Self-boarding is the latest of JetBlue’s efforts to reinvent the airport experience. At John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City, JetBlue debuted new interactive kiosks last year that feature self-bag tagging and self-bag drop. Based on positive customer response, JetBlue has since expanded the new lobby design to airports in Boston; Atlanta; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, with more coming later this year.