Lufthansa begins biometric boarding at LAX, planning US-wide roll-out

19/03/18

Germany's Lufthansa Group has launched hassle- free, one-step biometric boarding utilizing facial recognition in the US.

In a statement, the carrier said the pilot, enabled through a collaboration with Lufthansa Group’s longstanding IT partner, Amadeus, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Los Angeles World Airports Authority (LAWA), and Vision Box, is now available at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

During initial trials, Lufthansa received very positive feedback from guests and boarded approximately 350 passengers onto an A380 in about 20 minutes.

Here is how it works:

•       Self-boarding gates with sophisticated facial recognition cameras capture passengers’ facial images as they approach the device 

•       This image is securely sent to the CBP database for real-time matching and verification 

•       After a successful, instantaneous match within a few seconds, the system recognizes the passenger as “boarded” 

•       The passenger no longer needs to show a boarding pass or passport at the gate

“The increasing need for airlines, airports and authorities to offer faster and more convenient processes for guests to move through the airport creates a unique opportunity for the use of biometrics,” said Bjoern Becker, Senior Director, Product Management Ground and Digital Services for Lufthansa. “Lufthansa strives to enhance the customer experience by applying advanced technologies and innovative solutions. This is a further step towards achieving that goal.”

With ever-increasing passenger volumes and airport infrastructure limitations, biometrics are becoming a key element to speed up the airport process while ensuring passenger safety and security. In the U.S., airlines will not need to create and maintain their own biometric database as it can rely on data provided from a central source – the CBP – for exceptional efficiency and accuracy.

“CBP is excited to work with air travel industry partners like Lufthansa to demonstrate how facial biometrics can provide a range of traveler benefits for a secure and seamless passenger experience,” said John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Amadeus, the provider of Lufthansa’s Passenger Service System (Altéa) which includes the Altéa Departure Control solution, developed the biometric enhancement together with Lufthansa. Following a successful trial in Los Angeles, Lufthansa intends to expand the pilot program to additional U.S. gateways and other passenger touchpoints. The trial’s completion will also pave the way for other airlines using Amadeus’s Altéa technology to rapidly deploy biometrics boarding for their own passengers.

“Biometric boarding has enormous potential to make the travel experience easier and less stressful,” said Guido Haarmann, Managing Director, Central & Eastern Europe, Airlines, Amadeus. “Last year, over 1.6bn passengers boarded planes using Amadeus Altéa technology. Amadeus’ mission is to develop technology that creates better journeys for travelers worldwide, and it is a pleasure to be working with our established partner Lufthansa to bring this innovative technology to market.”

“We anticipate that in near time, biometric boarding, as well as other aspects of the air travel experience, will be widely utilized across the U.S. and beyond,” concluded Lufthansa’s Bjoern Becker.

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