Flying is no fun, that’s for sure, and since 9/11 it has only gotten much worse with the heightened security and the influx of visitors. For me, one of the worst parts of flying is the archaic method of scanning in passengers and confirming one’s identity.
In America today, once you lug your bags through the entrance and across the trams you are then subjected to massive check-in lines to get your boarding pass. This is then followed by an ID and pass scan in an even larger line, followed by the arduous security check point.
Finally, once you arrive at your gate, you feel like you had already had a full day’s worth of travel, when it actually has just begun. Luckily, it seems that a mild remedy to these problems has been in the works right under our noses.
Over the past two years, London, Canada, Atlanta, and New York have been testing a new type of facial recognition software in an effort to eliminate boarding passes and the need for removing your ID from inside your wallet.
It all started in customs
Since 2015, Delta and Jetblue have been using this technology before all others because perhaps they saw some potential to improve their brand or even air travel as a whole. This technology is provided by a private company that pairs facial recognition with fingerprint scanning for their passengers.
This new technology started in customs for the more impatient passengers that wanted to get through this area quicker than they were used to. This started in Dulles airport in DC in a successful effort to catch people using another’s passport, then was expanded to New York’s JFK.
It was announced this Tuesday that Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, GA and JFK in New York will be fully integrating this technology for both customs and border protection. This will really test the ability of this new technology what with the travel ban and all.
We’re not the first
Our neighbor to the north, Canada, has been using this technology just as long as us but is focusing more on border security than convenience. They are planning on rolling out a series of kiosks dedicated to facially recognizing people coming into the country.
Canada looks to put this into full effect by this spring to not only increase security, but to reduce wait times which can lead to hostility and agitation. Canada has had a lot of problems with visitors and refugees as of late.
Meanwhile, across the pond in England, Heathrow airport in London will also be utilizing the facial recognition software. However, they seem to be a little more wary of this new technology so only three gates will be “trying” this software at this time.
How this could help
Currently, the software scans a person’s features in addition to their boarding pass but eventually the technology can discard the boarding pass and strictly focus on a quick scan. According to TSA officials, they want to analyze the technology quite a bit more before expanding to additional airports.
The benefits of this new software could one day mean the deletion of the ticket counter and instead going straight through your security checkpoint and onto your departure gate. Then, after a quick facial and thumbprint scan, you can be on your way.
This could change air travel for the better as it would get people in the air faster, helping to get more flights going in a day. The airlines would make more money and that could possibly mean cheaper air travel one day.
On the other end, according to Jake Laperruque of the Center for Democracy and Technology, “They are being required to submit a piece of bio-metric data that could identify them later and that’s going to be retained.” He believes that this a slippery slope and could encourage abuse to visitors and passengers alike.