Home > Chemical > American Airlines Begins Rolling Out ‘Biometric Boarding’ At Los Angeles Airport That Lets People Use Facial Recognition As Their ID

American Airlines Begins Rolling Out ‘Biometric Boarding’ At Los Angeles Airport That Lets People Use Facial Recognition As Their ID

Your face is now your passport.

American Airlines is joining a growing list of companies that are beginning to offer facial recognition as a means of identification.

The world’s largest airline will now let some passengers simply scan their face to board their flight at the Los Angeles International Airport. 

American Airlines is rolling out facial recognition cameras as part of a 90-day test to identify people before they get on board their flights from LAX’s Terminal 4.

The pilot program, which launched on Wednesday, came about as a result of partnership with digital security company Gemalto.

The technology works by matching users’ face scans against a database created by the Department of Homeland Security.

The photos are then deleted from the facial recognition system’s database after they’re matched, according to Fast Company.

American Airlines’ facial recognition system is opt-in only, however, so for those with privacy fears, they can continue to board and move through the airport using standard verification methods, such as passports.

Airport employees will also continue to check passports and other IDs.

The 90-day test will only affect flights in LAX's Terminal 4. The pilot program, which launched on Wednesday, came about as a result of partnership with digital security company Gemalto.

‘Being able to use your face instead of your boarding pass will not only enhance security but allow passengers to board more easily and quickly,’ Neville Pattinson, senior vice president of Government Programs at Gemalto, told the Associated Press.

‘The passenger process is changing globally and we are pleased to be on the leading edge of this change enabling our partners to offer improved service and security with our biometric capabilities.’

It comes as Delta Air Lines last month launched what it’s calling the first ‘biometric terminal’ in the US at the international terminal in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

Customers use facial recognition to verify their identity as they check in at self-service kiosks, move through security and board their flight.


Users enter their passport information on Delta’s website during online check-in.

For now, the biometric kiosks are only located in the international terminal.

To use it, customers click ‘Look’ on the screen at the kiosks.

They can also approach the camera at the ticket counter, when boarding or going through security.

Face scans are matched with passport or visa photos already in a Customs and Border Protection database.

Once a green check appears on screen, they’re able to proceed.

The facial recognition system is opt-in only, meaning that passengers aren’t required to have their face scanned to verify their identity.

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To use it, customers click ‘Look’ on the screen at the kiosks located in the lobby, or approach the camera at the ticket counter, when boarding or going through security.

Passengers’ face scans are matched to passport or visa photos that are in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s database.

After a green check mark appears, they’re able to proceed.

So far, Delta says the majority of travelers at the Atlanta airport are taking advantage of the facial recognition features.

Of the 25,000 customers who travel through Hartsfield-Jackson’s international terminal, only 2 percent have opted out of the technology, according to the airline.

Not only that, but the airline says the system has helped reduce the long lines and traffic jams that have become customary at many airports.

‘Based on initial data, the facial recognition option is saving an average of two seconds for each customer at boarding, or nine minutes when boarding a wide body aircraft,’ Delta said.

Delta launched the system with the idea that passengers will no longer need to use their passport to get through checkpoints around the airport.

However, customers will still need to keep their passport on hand for use in other airports without biometric security systems.

We’re removing the need for a customer checking a bag to present their passport up to four times per departure – which means we’re giving customers the option of moving through the airport with one less thing to worry about, while empowering our employees with more time for meaningful interactions with customers,’ Gil West, Delta’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

While it’s limited to the international terminal in Atlanta for now, Delta hopes to bring the technology to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in 2019.

Delta has been testing its biometric security technology at several airports over the past several years, including the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

The firm has also tested a ‘biometric bag drop’ system at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and biometric boarding at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Unsurprisingly, privacy advocates have raised concerns about how data collected by the biometric security systems could be misused.

Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the facial recognition systems are a threat to individual privacy.

In particular, it threatens ‘our constitutional “right to travel” and right to anonymous association,’ Lynch said.

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Importantly, Delta’s facial recognition software uses U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s traveler verification service.

What’s more, it relies on software by NEC Corp. Customs, which is required by Congress to collect biometric information from foreign visitors as they leave the U.S., according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

It comes as the Transportation Security Administration recently published a roadmap for how it plans to integrate new biometric data systems into airports across the country.

This includes plans to use fingerprints and facial scans at airport checkpoints, potentially leading to shorter lines.

It could also mean travelers may be able to leave their passports at home in the future.


Facial recognition is increasingly used as way to access your money and your devices.

When it comes to policing, it could soon mean the difference between freedom and imprisonment.

Faces can be scanned at a distance, generating a code as unique as your fingerprints.

This is created by measuring the distance between various points, like the width of a person’s nose, distance between the eyes and length of the jawline.

Facial recognition systems check more than 80 points of comparison, known as ‘nodal points’, combining them to build a person’s faceprint.

These faceprints can then be used to search through a database, matching a suspect to known offenders.

Facial scanning systems used on personal electronic devices function slightly differently, and vary from gadget to gadget.

The iPhone X, for example, uses Face ID via a 7MP front-facing camera on the handset which has multiple components.

One of these is a Dot Projector that projects more than 30,000 invisible dots onto your face to map its structure.

The dot map is then read by an infrared camera and the structure of your face is relayed to the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone X, where it is turned into a mathematical model.

The A11 chip then compares your facial structure to the facial scan stored in the iPhone X during the setup process.

Security cameras use artificial intelligence powered systems that can scan for faces, re-orient, skew and stretch them, before converting them to black-and-white to make facial features easier for computer algorithms to recognise.

Error rates with facial recognition can be as low as 0.8 per cent. While this sounds low, in the real world that means eight in every 1,000 scans could falsely identify an innocent party..

One such case, reported in The Intercept, details how Steven Talley was falsely matched to security footage of a bank robber.


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