The Mineta San Jose International Airport is now testing out a pilot program to use biometrics for passenger screening. The system has been implemented by Alaska Airlines and airport security company CLEAR.
The program was launched in April and has steadily accumulated a number of enthusiastic participants. It allows Alaska Airlines customers to entirely eschew the traditional means of identification – driver’s licences, boarding passes, and so on – and to instead scan their fingerprints on a touch screen in order to gain entry to their flights.
It’s the product of two companies’ enthusiasm for technological innovation. Alaska Airlines, a relatively small US carrier, has a history of forward-thinking decisions to adopt new technologies – a business approach that has helped it to remain competitive – and has been looking into biometric screening since last fall. CLEAR, meanwhile, enthusiastically welcomed the TSA’s call for private partnerships last fall in developing its PreCheck passenger screening program, and this spring announced that it would be bringing biometric screening to a major airport in Maryland.
While there has been a lot of enthusiasm over these biometric screening programs, they haven’t been enjoying the smoothest takeoff. There are concerns about such services’ accessibility for those in wheelchairs or visually impaired. Moreover, there have been signs lately that the TSA is reconfiguring its PreCheck program to be based not on biometrics, but on biographic data analysis instead.
Still, for now many organizations, including private airlines like Alaska Airlines, clearly feel the technology is worth exploring, and it may have a chance to soar yet.
Source: San Jose Mercury News
July 29, 2015 – by Alex Perala