Delta and JetBlue appear to be frontrunners in leveraging biometrics to improve the airport experience. In May-2017 Delta trialled using fingerprints instead of paper or mobile boarding passes at Washington National Airport, followed by tests for passengers using fingerprints to check bags. The airline has also conducted biometric Sky Club check-in at Washington National and Atlanta Concourse B.
The testing was available to Delta SkyMiles Members enrolled in the CLEAR programme. CLEAR is a biometric security screening process that scans fingerprints or the iris of the eye. Delta has a minority stake in CLEAR, and the programme is available at more than 20 US airports. An annual membership for CLEAR is USD179.
Fingerprint scans at Delta’s Sky Clubs are available to US citizens or permanent residents. For roughy a year, exclusive rates to enroll in Clear have been available to SkyMiles members, with Diamond Medallion Members receiving free membership.
Although Delta believes expectations are growing to use biometrics as a form of identity verification for all daily activities, there could also be financial opportunities for the airline in the fast-spreading technology. The company has not been shy about making non-traditional investments for airlines, including its purchase of an oil refinery in 2012.
Delta executives recently stated the airline would continue to build out the refinery, but also stated there are opportunities available to move forward on in technology.
JetBlue, meanwhile, has also been utilising biometrics over the last year. In Jun-2017 the airline partnered with Sita and US Customs and Border Protection to trial self boarding on its flights from Boston to Aruba, and Lufthansa has recently introduced biometric boarding at Los Angeles International airport.