- Emirates has become the first airline outside America to receive approval for biometric boarding from the US Customs Border Protection (CBP)
- With the approval, customers flying from Dubai to any of Emirates’ 12 destinations in the US will be able to choose facial recognition technology at the departure gates
- This will reduce the time taken for identity checks to two seconds or less
- No pre-registration is required
- Customers may also opt not to use the technology.
DUBAI: Emirates has become the first airline outside America to receive approval for biometric boarding from the US Customs Border Protection (CBP).
Soon, customers flying from Dubai to any of Emirates’ 12 destinations in the US will be able to choose facial recognition technology at the departure gates, reducing the time taken for identity checks — to two seconds or less.
A mix of facial and iris recognition biometric equipment at the terminal helps passengers to “check in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates Lounge, and board their flights, simply by strolling through the airport”.
No pre-registration is required, and customers may also choose not to use the technology.
Emirates does not store any biometric records of its customers — 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.
The results were encouraging.
Some flights achieving 100 per cent biometric boarding and zero manual checks.
In June, Emirates also implemented biometric boarding for passengers on its Washington-Dubai flights. The airline expects to make biometric boarding available for all its US destinations by year-end, once the equipment is in place.
Dr Abdulla Al Hashimi, divisional senior vice-president, Emirates Group Security, said: “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,” said Al Hashimi.
John Wagner from the Office of Field Operations, US Customs and Border Protection, said: “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 modernisation 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.”
How biometric boarding works
At the boarding gate, the system clicks the passenger’s photo, which is matched against CBP’s gallery in real-time to verify the person’s identity in two seconds or less.
The system may not work for those who haven’t travelled to the US for a long time or whose images are not in CBP’s gallery, in which case they can simply approach the gate desks.