Delta, JetBlue Begin Testing Biometric Boarding Passes

November 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The future is now, or nearly so, now that the scanning of fingerprints is reaching mass adoption in the travel world. Delta is partnering with independent airport security company CLEAR to capitalize on its proven biometric data technology for expediting the boarding process.

“We’re rapidly moving toward a day when your fingerprint, iris, or face will become the only ID you’ll need for any number of transactions throughout a given day,” Gil West, Delta COO, said on the company’s website. “We’re excited Delta’s partnership with CLEAR gives us an engine to pioneer this customer experience at the airport.” While only in phase one of development, the potential is real for the printed or even electronic boarding pass to quickly become a relic of the past.

Delta Airlines' machine for biometric boarding passesThe current biometric boarding passes pilot program offers eligible Delta SkyMiles members who have also purchased CLEAR to navigate Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport using only their fingerprint as identification. They can clear security and enter the Delta Sky Club. Phase two would allow them to also check luggage and board their flight using their biometric boarding passes data.

JetBlue also began testing the use of facial recognition in June on just one route: Boston to Aruba. In its pilot partnership with air carrier technology company SITA and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), passengers have their picture taken at the gate. SITA’s technology compares that photo with the one on file with CBP to see if it matches the passenger’s passport photo. Because the flight is international, all passengers should already have a passport on file. If JetBlue decides to extend this technology to domestic flights, some other form of identification would have to be used, since not all travelers have valid passports.

Jim Peters, SITA’s chief technology officer, said in a JetBlue press release: “This biometric self-boarding program for JetBlue and the CBP is designed to be easy to use. What we want to deliver is a secure and seamless passenger experience . . . This is the first integration of biometric authorization by the CBP with an airline and may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across US airports.”

Have you ever used biometric boarding passes to get onto your flight? Would you use it, or do you prefer the traditional methods? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Delta Airlines

Indian Airline IndiGo Removes Check-In Process for Domestic Passengers

August 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Indian Airline IndiGo is making air travel easier for its domestic passengers within India. According to a Future Travel Experience article, IndiGo is using something called an “Integrated Travel Document”, which means passengers don’t have to check in manually.

Instead, they choose a seat and meals when they purchase tickets and are immediately emailed a boarding pass along with their travel itinerary without needing to check in on their own.

IndiGo AirlinesThis is a great way to allow passengers to avoid waiting in lines at the airport. We’re not sure that this is something that would “fly” in the U.S., but on the other hand, many U.S. carriers do allow passengers to print out boarding passes the day before a flight, or check in with their mobile phone.

On the other hand, there are not a lot of automatic bag drops here, so passengers who need to check a bag will still need to go through the bag check-in process. We’re also not sure how IndiGo is handling that process.

Future Travel Experience notes that it had previously reported on automated check-in making strides last year. “The likes of JetBlue, Finnair, Air France, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA and Flybe have either trialed or implemented auto check-in, but IndiGo has now taken it a step further by integrating it into the booking process,” it notes.

We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out within the U.S. and whether automated luggage drops will being to make travel a bit easier within the U.S.

What do you think? Would you like to receive an automated boarding pass right when you book your flight instead of having to mess with checking in 24 hours before your flight leaves, or even standing in line at the airport? Tell us in the comments section below or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Kurush Pawar (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Gatwick Airport Tests Hi-Tech Security and Passenger Technology

August 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Remember how impressed you were the first time you saw an airport faucet that turned on automatically when you waved your hand in front of them? (Don’t pretend you weren’t!)

It’s almost shocking how far airports have come technologically since then. Case in point: Gatwick Airport’s chief information officer, Michael Ibbitson, recently told FutureTravelExperience.com about the new technology that’s not just wowing passengers, but also streamlining the passenger experience and making travel safer for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the technological advances Gatwick has made.

Speeding Up Bag Check

English: Gatwick South Terminal Zone K check-i...

Gatwick South Terminal Zone K check-in concourse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Automated bag check and check-in are technologies well on their way to mass adoption at this point, but Gatwick is aiming to make them more efficient than ever.

EasyJet has been testing a bag drop system fueled by Phase 5 Technology at its Gatwick hub. According to Ibbitson, the average passenger took 76 seconds to process — the goal is to get passengers through in 45 — so they’re tweaking the system, working toward maximum efficiency.

Automated Security

One of the major headaches of air travel, no matter how far you’re traveling, is getting through security. Gatwick is attempting to make security checkpoints smoother by automating them — the systems installed in 2012 have cut wait time to an average of a mere 107 seconds — and installing Security Max lanes that will enable even more passengers to prepare for the checkpoint at once.

Iris Scanning Technology

The wildest technology we read about: Biometrics as a single passenger token. The gist is that when you check in at the airport and drop your bag off, a machine also scans your iris — an identity marker that’s almost impossible to forfeit — and all your passenger information, from baggage tracking to your passport and boarding pass, is encoded into the scan.

A single scan of your iris is all it takes to move you through the rest of the travel process throughout the airport — and even at your destination.

According to the Future Travel Experience post, this technology is well within reach — it’s the widespread implementation of the technology at airports worldwide that will take some time.

What technology would you most like to see implemented in your favorite airport? The sky’s the limit, so they say — leave a comment with your loftiest technology dreams.

London Stansted Airport Begins Using Smart Access Security Gates

June 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

London Stansted Airport is pioneering new technology to the airline industry by introducing smart access security gates in its terminals. At London’s third busiest airport just 30 miles northeast of the city center, the new smart access security gates will be able to scan boarding cards, passports and identification cards.

The gates will serve as an extra level of security, by correctly identifying flight passengers and also assist the boarding process by removing the hassles commonly involved with current boarding systems. Less hassle means less time and greater efficiency for the passenger, the airline, security personnel and the airport.

If the tests are successful, there is a good chance the new technology will be adopted by other airports around the globe. At the current rate of technological evolution, the creators believe it will be more affordable within the coming years. And with London Stansted creating the blueprint, other airports will be able to more easily adopt it just by following Stansted’s lead.

The goal of introducing smart access security gates is to improve the passenger experience by automating as much of the boarding process as possible. Customer service agents will still be available to assist customers, but they won’t be tied down with the mundane chores that can be done more efficiently through technology. They will be available to solve real customer problems, instead of printing and collecting boarding passes and checking the customer’s ID multiple times.

While some people may have security concerns about the automated system, we know from our work in the industry that airport officials wouldn’t just adopt new technology if they weren’t convinced of its effectiveness and safety. The fact that they’re considering it at all makes us believe they have a lot of the bugs worked out. If they weren’t convinced, they wouldn’t even try it out on a small scale because the risk is too high.

As a result, we believe this is going to be part of the coming wave of gate and ticketing automation that will result in faster and more pleasant flying experiences for airline customers’ everywhere.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Boarding Pass

May 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Once you arrive at the airport and pick up your boarding pass (or you print it out at home before you ever leave), the first thing you look at is the gate number and seat assignment. For most people, that’s about it. But you’re missing a lot of information that is helpful, and sometimes crucial, to know. If you’ve never really paid attention to your boarding pass, here are a few things you may want to pay attention to.

1. TSA PreCheck Status

TSA PreCheck allows you to go through security lines faster, making your airport visit much easier. However, you need to become a member in order to use it. It can be a great time saver if you travel frequently. However, you’re not guaranteed PreCheck for every flight, since it’s not available in every airport. Look for the PreCheck symbol on your boarding pass to see if you’re eligible for the PreCheck service on your flight.

2. In-Flight Wifi

English: A boarding pass from British Airways,...

A boarding pass from British Airways, for a flight from Vancouver to London Heathrow. The green sticker allows use of “fast pass” security clearance and the brown pencil mark on the stub shows that the passenger has cleared security. The large portion is meant to be retained by the airline but in this case it wasn’t. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost all of American planes have built-in wifi for travelers. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s paid. Your boarding pass will let you know you if your plane has wifi access and whether it’s free or paid. Once you get the all clear from the flight deck, fire up your laptop or tablet, and visit a few of your favorite sites. Like our Facebook page, for example. . .

3. Flight Time

This may seem obvious, since you already know your flight time. But you need to know that flight times constantly change and may be different than the time you originally scheduled. This is also true of your gate.

Note: Depending on when you printed out your boarding pass, the information may have changed. The Departure/Arrival screens are going to have the most up-to-date information, but if you printed out your boarding pass at the airport, that’s a close second.

4. Bar Code

Your boarding pass now has a bar code instead instead of a magnetic strip. This change allowed you to print your boarding pass from home, saving you time at the airport.

5. Flight Number

You may actually be flying on an airline with a codeshare, even though you booked on a different airline. For example, if you booked a United flight to go to Europe, you may find you’re on a Lufthansa flight, which is United’s codeshare partner. Check your ticket for the flight number for codeshare information. If you have a higher-than-expected flight number, that usually means two airlines are sharing the same flight.

6. Seat Number and Status

The more perks you have with your chosen airline, the closer you are to the front of the plane. Being a preferred member of the loyalty club, upgrading your seat, and having priority check-in can all move you toward the front of the plane, which means you get to board early and be one of the first to depart. Anyone who’s ever been last on, last off knows how annoying it can be.