Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the latest airport to deploy US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Simplified Arrival system. Simplified Arrival uses facial recognition technology to match a new photo of each traveler to an existing record of that person.
US citizens can opt out of the program, in which case they will be directed to a CBP agent for manual inspection. The same is true for foreign travelers who cannot be matched with the Simplified Arrival system. The images of citizens will be deleted within 12 hours, while those of foreigners will be stored in a Department of Homeland Security database.
The Philadelphia airport processed 600,000 travelers in 2020, though the number was closer to 1.6 million in 2019. The decreased traffic represents the impact of COVID-19, which is why airport operators believe that the 2019 figure is a more accurate benchmark moving forward. In that regard, PHL administrators are planning to introduce their own face-based biometric boarding system in the next few years.
“The timing of the Simplified Arrival program couldn’t be better, with increased international travel ramping up for the summer season,” said PHL CEO Chellie Cameron. “The convenience, accuracy and speed of this touchless program will streamline the passenger experience while preparing us for the introduction of our outbound biometric exit program in 2022.”
CBP has deployed Simplified Arrival at multiple airports in the past few months. The full list includes international airports in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami, in addition to Canadian and Caribbean airports that offer preclearance service for flights to the US. The technology has also been installed at several land borders between the US and Mexico.
March 25, 2021 – by Eric Weiss