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Emirates to roll out biometric boarding option for US-bound flights

Customers flying via Dubai to any of Emirates’ 12 destinations in the US will be able to choose facial recognition technology at the departure gates, reducing the time taken for identity checks to two seconds or less.

Emirates to roll out biometric boarding option for US-bound flights

File photo of an Emirates plane. (Photo: REUTERS/Rafael Marchante)

SINGAPORE: Emirates customers flying via Dubai to the United States, including those from Singapore, will soon be able to opt for biometric boarding, making it faster for them to clear the departure gates.

The facial recognition technology option will reduce the time taken for identity checks to "2 seconds or less", said Emirates in a news release on Monday (Sep 23).

The new option will be available for customers flying via Dubai to any of the 12 destinations Emirates flies to in the US.

Those using biometric boarding will have their photo taken at the boarding gate.

The photo is then matched against the US Customs Border Protection (CBP)'s gallery in real-time to verify the person's identity.

The airline said it is the first outside the US to receive approval for biometric boarding from the CBP.

"No pre-registration is required, and customers may also choose not to use the technology," said the airline. "Emirates does not store any biometric records of its customers – all the data is managed securely by CBP."

The system may not work for those who have not travelled to the US for a while or whose images are not in the CBP's gallery, said Emirates.

Emirates tried out the technology at the departure gates of its flights from Dubai to New York and Los Angeles in July and August.

The airline said results were encouraging and it hoped to make biometric boarding available for all its US destinations by the end of the year.

"Our ultimate aim is to help our passengers travel paperless, without the need for passports and IDs," said Emirates Group Security's divisional senior vice president Abdulla Al Hashimi.

"Biometric boarding is one more step in streamlining processes at our hub using digital technology, saving our customers time and giving them peace of mind."

Emirates currently flies to 12 US cities: New York, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

The airline said it is also in talks with authorities of several countries "to make security using facial recognition technology more acceptable and accessible.

Source: CNA/nc(aj)

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