Dubai’s Emirates offers facial recognition ID checks on US-bound flights

The airline has become the first non-US airline to receive approval for biometric boarding from US Customs Border Protection

Flying to the United States from the UAE could now be much faster, as Emirates has become the first non-US airline to receive approval for biometric boarding from US Customs Border Protection (CBP).

Passengers flying from Dubai to any of Emirates’ 12 US destinations will soon be able to select facial recognition in place of ID checks, reducing the identity verification time to as little as two seconds or less per person.

In a release, Emirates stated it is hoped the facial recognition system will be completely up-and-running by the end of the year. The airline also emphasised no pre-registration is required, and that the facial recognition checks are optional – passengers can still request manual identity verification. It also stated the airline does not store any facial recognition data – that is managed by CBP.

The facial recognition technology was first piloted at departure gates on Emirates flights from Dubai to New York and Los Angeles this past July and August. According to the airline, some flights had everyone choosing to go the facial recognition route instead of manual identity verification.

Emirates already offers facial recognition ID checks on flights from the US to Dubai.

READ: Emirates to introduce facial recognition technology at Dubai airport

Abdulla Al Hashimi, divisional senior vice president for Emirates Group Security said: “Our ultimate aim is to help our passengers travel paperless, without the need for passports and IDs. Biometric boarding is one more step in streamlining processes at our hub using digital technology, saving our customers time and giving them peace of mind. We are talking with authorities of several countries to make security using facial recognition technology more acceptable and accessible.”

READ: Emirates to launch trials of ‘world’s first biometric path’ at Dubai airport

Added John Wagner, deputy executive assistant commission at the Office of Field Operations for CBP: “By comparing a traveller’s face to their passport or visa photo that was previously provided for the purpose of travel, we have streamlined identity verification that further secures and enhances the customer experience.”