Emirates Airline set to adopt biometric boarding on all US flights

Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline is striving to push the boundaries of technology, becoming the first airline outside the US to receive approval for biometric boarding from the US Customs Border Protection (CBP).

Passengers flying from Dubai to any of Emirates’ 12 destinations in the US will soon be able to choose facial recognition technology at the departure gates, reducing the time taken for identity checks to two seconds or less. No pre-registration is required and customers may also choose not to use the technology. The carrier 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 Airline’s flights from Dubai to New York and Los Angeles through the peak periods in July and August. The results were encouraging, with some flights achieving 100 per cent biometric boarding and zero manual checks. The airline expects to make biometric boarding available for all its US destinations by year-end, once the equipment is in place.

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The system works by clicking 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. It may not work for those who have not 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.

On the cutting-edge development, divisional senior vice president, Emirates Group Security, Dr Abdulla Al Hashimi elucidated: “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, saving our customers time and giving them peace of mind. We are talking with authorities of several countries to make security using facial recognition technology more acceptable and accessible,” he shared.

Emirates Airline currently flies to 12 US cities, including New York, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. In October last year, the airline launched the world’s first biometric path to offer customers a smooth and seamless journey at Dubai International Airport.