JetBlue wants the selfie to be the new standard for airline access

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Airbus
JetBlue will test a new paperless and deviceless boarding system in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection starting in June at Boston’s Logan International Airport. The system uses biometrics — specifically facial recognition — to match passengers with their passport photos.

The airline is the first to integrate with CBP and passengers have to do nothing other than opt-in to the program. The test is only for flights to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport and JetBlue did not specify whether it has any immediate plans to expand the test, if successful.

The process is fairly simple: Passengers step up to a camera to have their picture taken. The picture is then compared with passport photos in the CBP database and to verify flight details. If successful, the passenger is notified that they are cleared to board by an on-screen message at the camera terminal. JetBlue says it will have employees nearby to monitor the process and assist in the event of any issues.

“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,” JetBlue Customer Experience Vice President Joanna Geraghty said of the test.

This isn’t JetBlue’s first foray into self-service. The company launched a new lobby design at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last year, which allowed customers to check in and drop their own bags in an effort to reduce waiting times for available counter attendants. That design was expanded to its Boston; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Newark, New Jersey, and Atlanta terminals earlier in 2017.

Other airlines are looking to self-service and biometrics to make air travel less frustrating. In May, Delta announced plans to use facial-recognition technologies for bag drops, while Sita, a airline IT company jointly owned by several airlines and air transport companies, is working on new self-service kiosks that can intelligently move through an airport to assist in alleviating congestion.

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