SITA has helped JetBlue and the US Customs and Border Protection pave the way to fast, secure boarding using just a photo. This is just the first step to a future where your face is your passport at every step of the way.

In June this year SITA took a major step forward in delivering a new passenger journey where your face becomes your passport. Working with JetBlue and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), SITA tested a new paperless and deviceless self-boarding process as part of ongoing trials to implement the US biometric exit process in the future.

Those who opted in during the boarding process could put away their boarding passes and devices and simply step up to the camera for a quick photo. The custom-designed camera station connects to CBP to instantly match the image to passport, visa or immigration photos in the existing CBP databases and to JetBlue’s systems to verify the passenger’s flight details and complete the boarding process.

The trial at Boston Logan Airport, used initially for flights to Aruba, proved to be hugely successful. JetBlue, working with SITA, was the first airline to integrate with CBP to use biometrics and facial recognition technology to board passengers in a single step at the gate.

Accurately checking travel identities while facilitating self-service remains one of the air transport industry’s biggest challenges. For airlines and airports technology holds the key to unlocking a smoother passenger journey while ensuring national security remains top priority.

Across the globe new technologies and approaches are being explored to better manage identity that does not require showing travel documents every step of the way. IATA has led the airline industry and is shaping its approach through its One Identity Program, which is strongly supported by suppliers such as SITA.

This is one area where we at SITA believe that we can deliver real value to the wider air transport community. Leveraging our existing self-service technology together with the use of mobile and biometrics technologies, SITA, with the strong support of SITA Lab, is working with governments, airlines and airports to speed up identity checks for passengers,” says Sean Farrell, Portfolio Director, Strategy & Partnerships.      

“The JetBlue project shows how technology can make the boarding process simple and seamless for the traveler while enhancing US national security through the implementation of biometric exit. The early results are proving promising with initial positive feedback from JetBlue customers and crew members,” says Farrell.

In the coming months, SITA will continue to work with JetBlue and other airlines to build on the success of this trial at Boston Airport, expanding to other airports in the US.

This is also seen as another step to developing a future state where passengers can use their facial biometrics to identify themselves at every step in the airport journey.

“Over the past 18 months we have worked tirelessly to develop new self-service solutions for passengers. Biometrics is central to this approach and will be key to paving the way to a future state where your face becomes your passport, at every step in the journey at any airport in any country. The JetBlue trial shows that we can adjust and meet the requirements of different countries and jurisdictions without compromising the experience.”

The work also demonstrates how SITA can use existing common-use infrastructure in airports today to integrate biometric identification it in one seamless experience.

“This sort of development strongly supports our Smart Path concept which allows passengers to move through the airport and board the aircraft by presenting a single digital token, creating by capturing a passenger’s biometric details at the first step in the journey,” says Farrell. “We are also looking at taking that experience even further by making it mobile.”

SITA Smart Path is complex technology delivering a remarkably simple solution. A passenger’s biometric details are captured through a facial scan at the first touch point in his/her journey. The biometric record is checked against the passenger’s travel documents and a secure single token is created which they can use as identification at each additional step of the journey – from check-in to the aircraft.

“We believe that this technology is robust and we continue to demonstrate its functionality in a variety of scenarios and with numerous partner airlines and governments. This new approach to identity management is fast becoming a reality that works and is available today.”

Oct 2017

Identity beyond the airport

SITA helps Miami become first airport to provide fast entry process into USA via its mobile app

SITA’s work around identity management is not only focused on using biometrics in the airport but streamlining border and identity management across the journey. In another successful launch, SITA in August helped Miami International Airport (MIA) to become the first airport in the world to bring the convenience of Mobile Passport Control – the fast entry process into the USA – into its own airport app experience. Miami was awarded “Best Immigration Initiative” at the FTE (Future Travel Experience) Global Awards for this ground-breaking initiative in September.

US citizens and Canadian visitors arriving into Miami can now use the airport's mobile app to submit their passport information and answer CBP inspection-related questions prior to arrival at the border control point. The service does not require pre-approval and is free to use.

SITA's design ensures the CBP certification requirements are met, which significantly reduces the certification process and implementation time for customers. Today the SDK (software development kit) from SITA is available to any international airport in the USA or any airline flying passengers to the USA. This allows them to easily integrate the functionality into their existing apps with minimal development effort. SITA is also in discussions with other governments who are looking to digitize their landing card, customs and border clearance procedures, providing SITA with a unique value solution not available elsewhere in the industry.

“Providing such services via mobile devices enables direct communication with travelers which supports secure pre-clearance and helps streamline the passenger journey once in the airport,” says Sean Farrell, Portfolio Director, Strategy & Partnerships. “It is a natural extension of the process we are building on the ground and advance passenger processing we have in place today.”

With the upcoming launch of Apple X, SITA and SITA Lab will continue to explore new ways that mobile devices and biometrics can streamline airport processes.

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