British Airways is expanding its biometric identification gates to new airports in New York (JFK), Miami (MIA), and Orlando (MCO). These “biometric e-Gates,” which have been in a trial at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) since November 2017, use facial recognition to match flyers with their passport, visa, or immigration photos and can remove the need to show a boarding pass or identification when getting on a plane.
Passengers still have to show identification and a boarding pass when they go through airport security. But when used instead of the traditional boarding process, British Airways says the gates dramatically decrease wait times. With the biometric gates at LAX, British Airways has been able to board “more than 400 customers in only 22 minutes,” which the company says is less than half the normal amount of time.
British Airways says the new trial at Orlando International Airport is already underway. Two of the biometric gates are in place, scanning customers on the daily flight from Orlando to Gatwick, England. The company claims it has been able to board these flights of about 240 people in just 10 minutes.
At JFK and MIA, British Airways is running a slightly different trial where the gates will be used to identify passengers arriving from Heathrow Airport, meaning they’ll no longer have to scan travel documents or be fingerprinted after they land.
The British Airways trials are just one flavor of biometric technology being tested at airports around the world. Dubai is working on using facial recognition to handle security checkpoints at its international airport. Delta integrated facial recognition into some bag drop stations last year, and JetBlue tested biometric boarding on flights to Aruba. Both Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection have been integrating facial recognition into security checkpoints, an idea which recently drew criticism Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology.