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US airports test biometric checkpoint screening to replace boarding passes

Denver International Airport
AIRLINE PILOT: The TSA is evaluating the use of biometric screening technology at two US airports

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Denver International Airport have begun trialling a biometrics-based checkpoint screening process that allows travellers to use their fingerprint as both a boarding pass and identity document. The pilot is being conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“TSA is conducting a proof of concept demonstration to evaluate the operational and security impact of using biometrics to verify passengers’ identities using their fingerprints,” TSA says. “The technology matches passenger fingerprints provided at the checkpoint to those that have previously been provided to TSA by travellers when they enrolled in the TSA Pre application program.”

Once the technology finds a fingerprint match, it is able to obtain the passenger’s boarding pass information through Secure Flight, a risk-based passenger prescreening program that identifies low- and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveller lists and watchlists.

“In the long term, this technology has the potential to automate the travel document checking process by eliminating the need for a boarding pass and identity document and granting or denying traveller access into the security checkpoint through an electronic gate,” TSA adds. “TSA will analyse the data collected during the pilot for potential implementation at other US airports in the future.”

“TSA looks at technologies and intelligence capabilities that allow us to analyse and secure the travel environment, passengers and their property,” says the TSA’s Steve Karoly. “Through these and other technology demonstrations, we are looking to reinvent and enhance security effectiveness to meet the evolving threat and ensure that passengers get to their destinations safely.”

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