JetBlue testing facial-recognition boarding system in Boston

The partnership with U.S. Customs aims to expedite the board process.

— -- JetBlue Airways will soon begin testing technology at Boston’s Logan International Airport that will use facial-recognition in lieu of a boarding pass to clear passengers to board their flights, the airline said today.

Starting in June, passengers on the airline's Boston-Aruba route will be photographed at the gate prior to boarding and checked against the images on their passport or visa photos on file with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. If the computer affirms their identity, they will be allowed to board without showing any documentation.

JetBlue customers can opt out of using the facial recognition system and scan their boarding passes as usual, if they wish.

“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,” Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue executive vice president customer experience, said.

“Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks. Just look into the camera and you’re on your way.”

Passengers will still be required to show their passport and boarding pass at security prior to the gate.

The partnership with Customs and Border Protection is just part of a broader trend of biometric technology being used at airports to increase security and expedite passengers through the security process.

Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines announced plans to introduce a self-service bag drop machine equipped with similar facial-recognition technology to match customers with their passport photos, clearing them to check their own bags without interacting with an agent.

"We expect this investment and new process to save customers time," Gareth Joyce, Delta's senior vice president for customer service and cargo, said. "And, since customers can operate the biometric-based bag drop machine independently, we see a future where Delta agents will be freed up to seek out travelers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service."