Often I wonder whether technology makes travel better or worse. Don’t get me wrong, on some level it sure makes things easier, but then sometimes you’re stuck behind people who take forever to get their mobile boarding pass to work when passing through security, at the gate, etc. Other times you need help at a customer service desk, but the agents say they’re not allowed to help you unless you use the kiosk first.
Well, JetBlue will soon be testing out a new way to board using the powers of technology that seems awesome. JetBlue will be collaborating with the US Customs and Border Protection Agency and SITA to test a new paperless and deviceless self-boarding process. JetBlue is the first airline to work with the CBP to use biometric and facial recognition technology to verify customers at the gate during boarding. This trial will start in June on JetBlue’s Boston to Aruba flight.
Per the press release, here’s how the process will work:
The program will start in June on flights from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport. Customers can participate without any prior enrollment or registration.
Customers who opt in during the boarding process can put away their boarding passes and devices and simply step up to the camera for a quick photo. The custom-designed camera station will connect to CBP to instantly match the image to passport, visa or immigration photos in the CBP database and verify flight details. The customer will be notified on an integrated screen above the camera when they are cleared to proceed to the jet bridge. The setup will move JetBlue crewmembers from behind the counter to interact with customers and assist throughout the process. JetBlue will issue iPad minis to crewmembers, giving them mobility to monitor and manage the boarding process while interacting with customers.
And here’s the chart showing how the process will work:
What an awesome concept! This technology is actually practical, as there’s no boarding pass or mobile boarding pass required — instead you can board with a picture.
I suspect it will be a while before this is expanded significantly, though I appreciate the idea.