Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport will soon be home to the largest collection of biometric-based boarding gates of any airport in the world. The news comes as American Airlines launches use of the technology this week at DFW on select departures from Terminal D. While just a few gates are fitted today the airline and airport expect that nearly 75 gates across terminals A, B, C and D will have the systems online by the end of the year.
American is committed to ensuring that DFW remains a premier gateway. As its largest hub, implementing new technology like biometric boarding gives us the opportunity to enhance the airport experience in partnership with CBP. This new technology allows us to provide a more seamless and modern experience for both our customers and team members.– Cedric Rockamore, Vice President of DFW Hub Operations at American
DFW joins Los Angeles International Airport as a biometric boarding location for the airline. The carrier continues to monitor the performance of the new systems in advance of expanding to additional locations in the network.
The biometric boarding gate push helps airlines to meet government mandates around exit immigration processing of departing passengers. The images are compared with US government photo repositories to ensure that the passenger boarding the flight matches the details in the passport used to book that ticket. The photo database comes from multiple sources, including immigration entry photos and passport offices.
American Airlines currently operates 91 daily international departures to 63 destinations worldwide. Every passenger on each of those flights is subject to passport verification. That work is carried out today by agents at the gate (and not verified against a centralized database). By automating the process the carrier can improve accuracy and reduce boarding times (theoretically, though passengers getting bags into bins and butts into seats is often slower than the scans at the gate), as well as improve compliance.
The American/DFW partnership follows a similar effort with Delta Air Lines in Atlanta. Concourse F at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was the first terminal in the USA to offer an end-to-end biometric experience. The carrier is also extending its biometric boarding integration at its Detroit hub. But the sheer number of equipped gates to be equipped in DFW make that the leading airport, at least based on that metric.
While the airlines and airports report minimal opt-out of the services by passengers it is unclear if that is based on true acceptance of the technology’s value and convenience or simply because passengers are unaware that they can opt out or even what the data collection involves. Not everyone is entirely happy with the way the services operate, and there are questions about just how accurate the system really is. But with the government mandate for exit immigration maybe finally headed towards implementation it is hard to see where this is going to be scaled back. And the investments that make it work are coming on strong from both airports and airlines.