American Airlines Fans: Biometric Boarding Is Now at Their Biggest Hub. Here’s What It Is and When It May Come to Your Airport

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American Airlines has begun using biometric boarding for passengers jetting from its largest hub, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

The airline says, “American customers traveling on select international departures from DFW Terminal D can now enjoy additional convenience during the departure process. Instead of scanning boarding passes, the new one-step facial recognition program will scan and verify a customer’s identity with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in seconds at the gate. With this new process, no customer biometrics will ever be stored.”

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American Airlines will scan your face when boarding international flights at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. This is a huge trend across the travel industry and it will speed up the boarding process

We’re seeing the move to biometric boarding across the travel industry, not just airlines. I recently experienced biometric re-entry to the United States from the Bahamas when my cruise ship returned to Miami.

I find this stuff kinda creepy, but it’s pretty much how it goes in the 21st century. I will say, it was super quick to get off the ship and it sped up the line. I’m all about saving time so that aspect is great.

The Points Guy has previously reported that “American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue use biometric boarding for select international flights from the US. Plus, a few international carriers including British Airways and Lufthansa use biometric boarding for some of their flights departing the US.”

So yeah, this is a thing. Get ready for it.

American Airlines continued their press release with this news, “As the largest carrier at DFW, American offers 91 daily international departures to 63 destinations worldwide. The airline plans to expand biometric boarding to nearly 75 international gates throughout Terminals A, B, C and D by the end of this year.”

American Airlines Biometric Boarding: Here’s What to Expect

American Airlines says, “When customers begin the boarding process, the facial recognition program will scan an image of their face and send it to an existing cloud-based CBP database. The system then instantly matches the image against the passport photo already on file with CBP, and, if it sends back a yes, the customer is cleared to board within seconds at the gate. Otherwise, the agent will simply manually clear the customer using the regular clearance process.”

Again, I’ve actually experienced this with a cruise ship disembarkation — everyone got through the line much quicker. It was grand.

Now this next part from American Airlines is interesting, “Customers with a U.S. passport may also choose not to use the new system and board with their regular boarding pass.”

Hmm… well if they are already storing your passport photo and information in “the cloud” then what’s the point of not getting the benefit of a speedy entrance into the US?

Let me adjust my tin-foil hat for my conspiracy-theory friends and say, cell phone companies like Apple have your face, the government has your face… privacy is over. Perhaps the security is better? But what happens when that data base of faces is hacked and used for evil?

American hero Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Well, I guess Ben never had to board a plane to Paris.

As for me, I suppose I’ve given in as I’ve enjoyed Global Entry privileges for years now to re-enter the US quickly. You can get the fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursed (up to $100) when you pay with a credit card such as

  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express

When Can You Expect American Airlines Biometric Boarding at Your Home Airport?

American Airlines has yet to roll out a schedule. Earlier in 2019, American Airlines implemented it at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). American Airlines says they “will continue evaluating the program and its potential expansion to more locations.”

So that’s 2 major airports so far this year. To predict where it’s coming next, I’d say follow the incentives. If American Airlines is getting dinged at a certain airport for late departures, they’ll probably want to improve their on-time stats there first.

My first thought was Chicago O’Hare, but there aren’t a ton of American Airlines international departures. So I’m going to put my imaginary money on New York – JFK. I’d also say Philadelphia will be on the short list. American Airlines has been adding more flights to Europe from Philadelphia, its major transatlantic hub.

I think we’ll start seeing Biometric Boarding sooner rather than later on every airline because of competition. Not having the speed and convenience will become a competitive disadvantage.

I’m not sure how I feel about my face being scanned as identification but I must admit it was a superior experience to everyone fumbling for their passport. How do you feel about facial recognition and biometric technology at airports and cruise terminals?

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