Facial Recognition May Become Our Passports


If flying domestically in the U.S., a traveler needs a driver’s license or acceptable photo ID. Internationally, he or she needs a passport. Passengers also need boarding passes. But what if they didn’t? What if a person’s face, eyes, or thumbprint could get him or her on an airplane? Traveling would be easier and a lot safer. A passport or driver’s license can be forged, but it’s difficult to fool biometric technology, such as facial recognition, retinal scans and fingerprints.

The travel industry’s vision of the future replaces current documentation with verified biometrics. This would involve more than substituting biometrics for passports and boarding passes. Biometrics could negate air and rail tickets, as well as IDs for hotel check-in and car rental. Biometrics essentially would serve as a traveler’s identification and documentation through all stages of a journey.

It’s already beginning at a few of the world’s most congested airports, where high volume is prompting a search for more efficiencies. In the U.S., for instance, airlines at John F. Kennedy International can leverage U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition technology to expedite passenger check-in, baggage drop and boarding. Delta opened the nation’s first curb-to-gate biometric terminal last year at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, offering optional facial recognition from check-in to baggage claim.

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