Airport News

DFW Airport travels to the future with facial scanning boarding

DFW Airport travels to the future with facial scanning boarding

American Airlines biometric facial scanning
Boarding passes are so old-school. Photo courtesy of AA

American Airlines has begun using super-futuristic "biometric boarding" at its hub at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Travelers on some international departures from DFW Terminal D can now eschew old-school boarding passes and use the new, one-step facial recognition program instead.

The program can scan and verify a customer's identity with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in seconds at the gate.

American did a 90-day pilot program for biometric boarding at LAX in Los Angeles in December 2018. They're now one of a handful of airlines using the high-tech boarding process, along with Delta, JetBlue, British Airways, and Lufthansa.

For those who fear being on the grid, the technology does not store your mugshot, and extracts no more than the info it gets from a boarding pass barcode.

Of course, you know the barcode is the sign of the beast, right. See, it's all good.

American plans to expand biometric boarding to nearly 75 international gates throughout Terminals A, B, C, and D by the end of this year. The airline offers 91 daily international departures to 63 destinations worldwide.

In a statement, Cedric Rockamore, VP of DFW Hub Operations at American, says it's part of the airline's commitment to keep DFW a "premier gateway," saying "this new technology allows us to provide a more seamless and modern experience for both our customers and team members."

When customers begin the boarding process, the facial recognition program scans an image of their face and sends it to an existing cloud-based CBP database.

The system then matches the image against the passport photo already on file with CBP. If it sends back a yes, the customer is cleared to board. Otherwise, the agent will manually clear the customer using the regular clearance process.

Judson W. Murdock II, CBP Director of the Houston Field Office, says that facial recognition makes ID verification more efficient, accurate, and secure.

It also speeds up the boarding process when travelers don't have to wrangle with pulling out a boarding pass or ID. According to British Airways, the process allows it to board 400 passengers in 22 minutes, less than half the usual time.

Customers with a U.S. passport can choose not to use the new system and board with their regular boarding pass. Go ahead, be that way.

American will continue evaluating the program and its potential expansion to more locations and flights.