For international flyers in Orlando, your face is now your boarding pass & passport

Orlando International Airport has become the first in the U.S. to use facial recognition on all inbound and outbound international flights, enhancing security while also expediting the process of getting travelers to their destination.

Note: The latest research from OWI Labs, entitled “The Perimeter is Dead: $148B Physical Access Market to Lead IAM Growth,” is now available to download.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has partnered with SITA for the program, which is the first in the country with U.S. Customs & Border Protection’s Biometric Entry and Exit Program. The system applies to international travelers coming into and flying out of the Central Florida airport.

With the facial recognition system, flyers don’t need to show a boarding pass, identification, or even a passport — the system scans their face and them matches it against identification and travel documents on file, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Travelers are required to step up to a camera for the scanning process, and if they are approved, a gate opens to allow them to their boarding area.

Officials say that the biometric system should expedite the processing of passengers. In a presentation held at Orlando International Airport on Thursday, CBP officials said the technology will “transform the traveler experience.”

Dubbed “Smart Path,” SITA plans to have the capabilities at 64 boarding lanes and 30 boarding gates across MCO airport in the coming months.

Using Smart Path, British Airways is said to be able to board full flights with nearly 240 travelers in just 15 minutes.

“The innovative boarding process we tested is really popular with passengers,” Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chief Information Officer John Newsome said. “They simply look at the camera and within seconds the gate opens and they can board the flight. It is easy, fast and most importantly, secure. The solution works on common-use boarding gates and can be easily used by the many international airlines that we serve at MCO.”

For domestic flights, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has also explored utilizing biometrics to expedite security for members of the TSA PreCheck program. The administration has considered using biometrics at airport checkpoints, screening lanes, bag drop areas, and the airplane boarding area to enhance security while also facilitating passenger movement.

OWI Insight: As detailed in OWI’s latest research on the Identity & Access Management market, physical security will be a driving factor for identity industry growth in the years to come. In particular, checkpoints at airports, stadiums and events that cause long lines can, in and of themselves, become “soft targets” for terror attacks. Reducing or eliminating these lines, while also offering enhanced security and convenience, will be a win for security providers and consumers alike. With technology and availability improving, OWI sees the Physical Identity & Access Management space growing to a $148 billion market in North America alone by 2023.