Lufthansa Offers Biometric Boarding at Fourth US Airport

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Biometric boarding is being offered to passengers flying in and out of New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on Lufthansa.

Germany's largest airline collaborated with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and partners at the international airport in Queens, New York, to introduce the new facial recognition technology at JFK's Terminal 1.

One-step biometric boarding, which aims to be faster and more efficient than other methods, works by matching live images captured at the airport with data supplied by the CBP.

As passengers approach self-boarding gates, their images are captured by sophisticated facial recognition cameras. These images are then securely sent to a CBP database to be matched in real-time to existing images of the passengers from previously submitted passport photos, visas, or other travel documents. 

Verification of a match is virtually instantaneous, allowing passengers to board in a matter of seconds without having to show a paper or electronic boarding pass at the gate. The success rate of the matching technology is over 99 percent.  

Amadeus, the provider of Lufthansa’s Passenger Service System known as Altéa, developed the biometric enhancement together with Lufthansa. The gate hardware was provided by Vision Box

Lufthansa first launched one-step biometric boarding at Los Angeles' LAX airport in March 2018, where the company created a stir by managing to board 350 passengers onto an A380 in roughly 20 minutes. Later in the year, the airline extended biometric boarding to MCO in Orlando, and the system was rolled out to Miami International Airport in February 2019. 

They aren't done yet. Bjoern Becker, senior director, product management ground and digital services for Lufthansa, said: "We anticipate for this technology to continue growing and to introduce it to more gateways throughout the United States.”

Last fall the International Air Transport Association forecast that the number of air passengers will reach 8.2 billion globally in 2037. Should this prediction ring true it’s likely that speedy biometric boarding will eventually become compulsory around the world. However, right now Lufthansa passengers still have a choice over how they board.

statement released by Lufthansa said: "Those who are wary of the scanners will still have the option to board traditionally with an agent. Lufthansa ensures passenger privacy by only transmitting travelers’ photos and avoids storing them in any Lufthansa database."

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