Amadeus has developed facial-recognition technology in
partnership with Lufthansa that is now being used by the airline for boarding
at Los Angeles International Airport.
Lufthansa reports that during an initial trial it was able
to board 350 passengers onto an A380 plane in about 20 minutes.
The system uses facial-recognition cameras that capture a
photo of the passenger's face as he or she approaches the gate. The image is
instantly and securely sent to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection database
for real-time matching and verification.
Once the match is made, within a few seconds, the system
counts the passenger as "boarded," and the person can walk onto the
plane without needing to show a boarding pass or passport.
"The increasing need for airlines, airports and
authorities to offer faster and more convenient processes for guests to move
through the airport creates a unique opportunity for the use of biometrics,"
says Bjoern Becker, Lufthansa's senior director of product management for
ground and digital services.
"Lufthansa strives to enhance the customer experience
by applying advanced technologies and innovative solutions. This is a further
step towards achieving that goal."
The airline says it will introduce biometric boarding at
other U.S. airports following the pilot in Los Angeles.
The facial recognition capability is part of Amadeus'
passenger service system, Altea. In its release, Lufthansa says the trial
also will enable Amadeus to quickly offer biometric boarding to other airlines
that use the Altea technology.
Other partners in the project include U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, Los Angeles World Airports Authority and Vision Box.
"CBP is excited to work with air travel industry
partners like Lufthansa to demonstrate how facial biometrics can provide a
range of traveler benefits for a secure and seamless passenger experience,"
says John Wagner, deputy executive assistant commissioner for the Office of
Field Operations of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In April 2017, British Airways began adding facial
recognition technology to gates for domestic flights at Heathrow Airport, and
in November it expanded the program to international flights from LAX.
Earlier this month British Airways added biometric boarding
for outbound flights from Orlando International Airport and incoming flights to
New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Miami International
Airport. In May 2017, JetBlue announced it was partnering with SITA and U.S.
Customs and Border Protection to test biometric boarding for flights between
Boston and Aruba.