Passengers on Emirates flights from Dubai to the United States will be able to board their flights using biometric technology by the end of 2019.
Emirates is the first airline outside America to receive approval for biometric boarding from the U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP).
Passengers flying from Dubai to any of Emirates’ 12 destinations in the U.S. will be able to choose facial recognition technology at the departure gates. No pre-registration is required.
At the boarding gate, the system captures the facial biometrics of the passenger by taking their picture. The captured biometrics are sent to the CBP for matching against the CBP’s gallery in real-time. The process apparently can take two seconds or less.
The system may not work for those who haven’t travelled to the U.S. for a long time or whose images are not in CBP’s gallery.
Emirates says that passengers can opt out of using the biometric system and that it does not store any biometric records of its passengers. All the data is managed securely by CBP.
The technology was piloted at the departure gates of Emirates’ flights from Dubai to New York and Los Angeles through the peak periods in July and August.
Dr Abdulla Al Hashimi, Divisional Senior Vice President, Emirates Group Security:
Safety and security will always remain our number one priority, as Emirates continues to explore and invest in innovative solutions for hassle-free travel that help our customers fly better. Our ultimate aim is to help our passengers travel paperless, without the need for passports and IDs.
Biometric boarding is one more step in streamlining processes at our hub using digital technology, saving our customers time and giving them peace of mind.”
Emirates is also talking with other countries about using facial recognition.
John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commission, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection:
CBP has been working with our stakeholders like Emirates to build a simplified, but secure travel process that aligns with CBP’s and the travel industry’s modernization efforts. By comparing a traveler’s face to their passport or visa photo that was previously provided for the purpose of travel, we have streamlined identity verification that further secures and enhances the customer experience.”
In June, Emirates implemented biometric boarding for passengers on its Washington-Dubai flights. The airline expects to roll out this technology across all its US destination airports.
Emirates currently flies to 12 US cities: New York, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
N.B. Image credit: Emirates