Jetlbue at Logan Airpot
JetBlue will soon test the use of a facial-recognition system to board customers on certain flights at Logan Airport. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Prayitno

Soon you may not need a physical boarding pass to get on your flight at Logan Airport. JetBlue announced Wednesday that it will be the first airline to use a facial-recognition system to board customers at the gate.

Beginning in June, passengers flying from Boston to Aruba can choose to step up to a camera at the gate for a photo rather than scanning their phone or a paper boarding pass. 

The camera will snap a picture of the passenger’s face and match it to passport, visa or immigration photos in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection database to verify the customer and flight details.

There will be two lines at the gate, one for customers opting into the facial-recognition testing and one for using a regular boarding pass and passport. JetBlue said that it chose the Boston-to-Aruba flight because it operates daily with a high amount of U.S. citizens, which provides the most opportunities to test the technology.

JetBlue officials say the technology can help the boarding process run more smoothly and also enhance national security.

“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,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue's executive vice president of customer experience, in a statement. “Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks. Just look into the camera, and you’re on your way.

A screen above the camera will alert people when the facial-recognition boarding process is complete, and they can head onto the plane.

The airline says this technology will help free up employees from behind the counter at the gate so they can better assist customers.

JetBlue is collaborating with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and technology company SITA to test facial-recognition boarding. Jim Peters, chief technology officer of SITA, said in a statement that this “may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across U.S. airports.”

The testing program begins June 12 and will run for 45 to 90 days. The airline will review the results for the photo-matching success rate, speed and customer usability before expanding the technology to other flights.

Though the airline says this is the first use of such technology in the boarding process, it isn’t the only area of airline travel for which facial-recognition technology can be implemented. Delta announced earlier this month that it will launch a self-service bag drop that uses facial scanning.

Instead of giving your luggage to a Delta employee, you would check it yourself as a computer scans your face, CBS reported. That pilot program will be launched at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this summer. 

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