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How LAX and BA got 400 passengers boarded in 22 minutes

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In an effort to speed up the boarding process, British Airways has been busy updating its system of boarding e-gates at a selection of American airports – including Orlando International, Miami International, New York JFK and Los Angeles LAX.

The new technology, created by SITA, allows a much more efficient and “smoother” journey for passengers, who look into a camera before boarding, wait for the image to be scanned and have their biometric information confirmed. Then they hop onto the plane and find their seat. Job done.

Similar to facial identification already available on smartphones, the biometric e-gates use high-definition cameras, customers to pass through by recognising their unique facial features and matching them with the passport, visa or immigration photos.

Speaking about the tech, BA’s director of brand and customer experience, Carolina Martinoli, said: “British Airways is pioneering the use of biometric technology to benefit customers by simplifying and speeding up their journey through the airport, as part of our £4.5 billion investment programme.

“We’re using technology that consumers are now familiar with and trust because it delivers a convenient, reliable and secure experience.

“Our latest trial with SITA in Orlando is helping us to reduce the time it takes to board our aircraft, and early indications are that using biometrics for arrivals has huge potential too. These trials will help us to evolve the technology and processes we use to best suits the needs of our customers.”

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So far, the trial period has gone very well with more than 400 British Airways passengers filing through the LAX (the first airport to run the trials) biometric gates – installed at the Tom Bradley International Terminal – in just 22 minutes. This result has inspired the airport to begin discussions to roll out the tech for trial with other airlines.

“These e-gates use emerging technology to enable a faster and easier boarding process for passengers while at the same time furthering the mandate of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to safeguard our borders and protect the public from dangerous people and materials,” said Justin Erbacci (above), LAWA’s chief innovation and commercial strategy officer. “LAX is proud to be the first location in the United States to pilot this unique, paperless, biometric boarding process.”

“British Airways customers simply look at a camera and within seconds are approved to board”

The biometric boarding trials in Orlando and Los Angeles add to technology already in use by British Airways on its domestic UK flights from its hub at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

Diana Einterz, SITA president for the Americas, said: “SITA has partnered with British Airways to deliver a great customer experience using sophisticated technologies. We have combined the various airline boarding checks along with the US border checks into one simple step. British Airways customers simply look at a camera and within seconds are approved to board. It is secure and seamless travel in action today.”

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