SITA is trialing a Smart Path passenger screening system for domestic travelers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The airport already offers biometric screening on international flights, and is now the first in the country to offer a similar service within the United States.
To take advantage of the domestic Smart Path service, participating passengers will need to submit to a facial recognition scan during check-in. Their biometric template will then be linked to their flight information and their driver’s license (rather than the passport a traveler would typically be carrying for an international flight). Once that process is complete, they will be able to drop their bags, pass through security, and board their plane with only a follow-up scan.
The solution will improve public health outcomes during the pandemic because it will minimize the amount of contact that passengers have with airport staff. In that regard, they will be able to seamlessly complete check-in, bag drop and boarding transactions with a simple face scan. That said, the process in not yet fully automated, as photo ID will still need to be presented at security checkpoints when Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units are in use, and the use of legacy boarding pass scanners will also require the presentation of ID documents, confirms a TSA representative.
United Airlines will be acting as SITA’s carrier partner for the SFO trial. As a result, the contactless screening option will initially only be available on select United Airlines flights.
“Touchless technologies will be an important part of the post-pandemic air travel experience,” said SFO Director Ivar Satero. “This collaboration shows our collective commitment to restore air travel to an even higher standard of safety and efficiency for our guests.”
“The ability to use existing airport infrastructure is key to quickly respond to the new health measures required by COVID-19 and cost effective for airlines at a time when passenger volumes will take time to fully recover,” added SITA Americas President Diana Einterz.
US Customs and Border Protection brought its Simplified Arrival program to SFO in September. United Airlines has previously supported biometric screening through its partnership with CLEAR, while SITA has teamed up with NEC to develop new mobile screening technologies.
April 12, 2021 – by Eric Weiss