Boarding pass, out. Biometrics, in. Alaska Airlines is testing out a new intake procedure for frequent fliers, letting roughly 200 of them jetting off from the tech-savvy Mineta San Jose International Airport use iris scanners and fingerprint machines to prove their identities.
The new program is part of an elite partnership with the CLEAR airport security fast lane system, and comes as a replacement for paper passes and smartphones. The technology has been adapted for passenger use in part from the airline’s fingerprint-scanning system already in place at its Board Room lounges, USA Today’s Road Warrior Voices blog reported.
“We ran our first test in our Board Room airport lounges last fall and it was so successful with our customers that fingerprint entry is now a regular feature of all four of our Board Rooms,” said Sandy Stelling, managing director of customer research and development for Alaska Airlines, to the Road Warrior Voices blog. “The next step was to test biometric boarding passes and IDs, which is the trial we’re wrapping up right now in San Jose.”
The airlines said 80 percent of those who were tested for the biometrics check-in procedure voiced approval for the system.
One glitch: Stelling told the Mercury News that once customers “have gone through the plane door, they may not have anything that reminds them where their seat is.”
She also clarified the new biometric technology is going to be voluntary.
“Of course, this would simply be an option for customers who are interested in a simpler travel experience and not something that Alaska would require anyone to participate in,” she said, the news blog reported. “We’ve started with our airport lounges and expanded to test curb-to-seat.”