U.S. biometric exit checks at Las Vegas and Houston’s Hobby

Facial recognition will check passenger details given to the airline with the ones the CBP holds

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has started using facial recognition biometric exit checks at Houston’s William P. Hobby International (HOU)and at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport (LAS).

The trial at Houston is for select flights from HOU and the one at Las Vegas is for one daily flight to Guadalajara, Mexico.

There are now biometric exit trials ongoing at five major U.S. airports. Las Vegas and Hobby join Washington’s Dulles, Houston’s Bush Intercontinental and Chicago’s O’Hare International in the CBP’s deployment campaign.

The deployment builds upon a June 2016 pilot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport using facial recognition.

Future deployments are planned for additional airports this summer.

How it works

CBP builds a flight specific database rather than using the DHS [Office of Biometric Identity Management] database.

Using the flight manifest, CBP builds a flight specific photo gallery using photographs from the travel document the passenger provided to the airline. CBP then compares the live photo against the document photo in the gallery to ensure the passenger is the true bearer of the document. If the photo captured at boarding is matched to a U.S. passport, the passenger—having been confirmed as a U.S. citizen—is automatically determined to be out of scope for biometric exit purposes and the photo is discarded after a short period of time.

The new process has been used at Hartsfield-Jackson, taking photos of passengers and matching them against the temporary database. Tens of thousands of people had been processed with the system in the 10 months it had been working. Accuracy has been in the high 90th percentile.

U.S. biometric exit trials

Delta and JetBlue recently announced collaborations with CBP to integrate facial recognition technology as part of the boarding process.

Delta is testing eGates at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that combines airline boarding and biometric exit capture capabilities in a single process.

JetBlue is testing facial recognition technology at Boston Logan International Airport that allows passengers to self-board without scanning a boarding pass.

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