WestJet has successfully trialed a new biometric boarding system at Calgary International Airport. The trial took place on November 24, when passengers on WestJet flight 8901 were screened with a new facial recognition as they boarded their plane at Gate 88.
The system is the result of a collaboration between WestJet and TELUS. Embross made the biometric hardware used to screen passengers, while one37 and Oaro helped TELUS build the identity platform that was used for the trial. In that regard, one37 was primarily responsible for developing the actual app, while Oaro supplied the group with document recognition tech.
The completed Trusted Boarding program is essentially a digital identity wallet. Passengers are first asked to download the TELUS application, and then upload an identity document before getting to the airport. The app will confirm that the document is authentic, and store it in a digital wallet on that user’s smartphone.
Each user can then choose whether or not to share the document stored in the wallet with other parties. Those who share with the airport will be allowed to board a plane with only a facial recognition scan that compares a new photo of the passenger to the document stored in the wallet. In doing so, the app enables a contactless and streamlined passenger experience.
WestJet is hoping to work with the government of Canada to expand the program. The app is available for iOS and Android devices, and gives users full control of their personal information, insofar as they can choose when to share and can revoke the other party’s access privileges once their business is complete. The solution is compliant with the PIPEDA privacy regulations.
“The travel experience is evolving to include many touchless processes and WestJet is innovating to ensure our guests’ travel journey improves to become more seamless and efficient, while prioritizing safety above all,” said WestJet EVP and CIO Stuart McDonald.
The news reflects the growing interest in contactless airport screening technology. US Customs and Border Protection has deployed its face-based Simplified Arrival system at pre-clearance airports throughout Canada, while Air Canada started offering biometric boarding on select flights to the US in December of 2020.
November 29, 2021 – by Eric Weiss