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new biometric boarding trial at SFO (gates E5 and E6)

new biometric boarding trial at SFO (gates E5 and E6)

Old Apr 14, 21, 12:24 pm
  #1  
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new biometric boarding trial at SFO (gates E5 and E6)

United is running a completely optional trial of biometric boarding from gates E5 and E6 at SFO... I apologize if this has already been mentioned in FT, but I don't recall reading about it here.

I received the following email this morning from United:
United is transforming the airport experience by making your journey simpler. We’re piloting SITA’s Smart Path – a biometric technology to create a touchless boarding and bag drop process – and we’re inviting you to be a part of this biometric trial today on flights departing from Gates E5 and E6 at San Francisco International Airport.

To register, visit the Smart Path kiosks conveniently located by Door 10 in Terminal 3 - United Departure level (2nd Level). Smart Path is open to all travelers who are at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license or passport, which is needed to complete the enrollment. Your photo will only be available for travel today.

After registering, you’ll no longer need to present your boarding pass at the departure gate. Instead, your face is your boarding pass! During boarding, you’ll look into a camera, wait to be verified (usually takes less than a second!), and then walk onto the aircraft.
Since I had time to spare this morning, I decided to give it a try. There were two specialized check-in machines near to door 10 with SITA reps available to help. After completing the regular kiosk check-in formalities, the machine asks to scan your drivers license or passport and then takes a photo of your face. It didn't accept my drivers license on the first try, so I had to check-in again and use my passport. At the gate, there were additional United and SITA reps to oversee the biometric boarding. There's a specialized camera and biometric boarding lane at the gate. Unfortunately, I tried three times and it did not recognize any of my biometric details while the rest of the F cabin boarded in the regular boarding lane and filled up the overhead bins. I didn't see any other passengers use the biometric boarding option at the gate - although I did board towards the start of the boarding process. Of note, it requires briefly removing your face mask both at check-in /registration and at boarding.

Interesting concept if they can get it to work properly but right now seems like far too many additional steps required as opposed to just using a mobile boarding pass.

-FlyerBeek
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Old Apr 14, 21, 3:46 pm
  #2  
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They were already using this for passport check for international flights in G Terminal pre-pandemic. It's a little creepy.
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Old Apr 14, 21, 4:06 pm
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LH has been using this in Boston for 2 years. It works well. Nothing you need to do. You show up and board. Pretty easy Glad UA is rolling this out.
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Old Apr 14, 21, 4:23 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerBeek View Post
Unfortunately, I tried three times and it did not recognize any of my biometric details while the rest of the F cabin boarded in the regular boarding lane and filled up the overhead bins. I didn't see any other passengers use the biometric boarding option at the gate - although I did board towards the start of the boarding process. Of note, it requires briefly removing your face mask both at check-in /registration and at boarding.
Was there enough overhead space left for you to stow you bag by the time you got through?

David
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Old Apr 14, 21, 4:45 pm
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Originally Posted by DELee View Post
Was there enough overhead space left for you to stow you bag by the time you got through?

David
Yes, I was able to use the last bin in F and first bin in Y for my two bags (I was seated in the bulkhead, hence why I tried to board first). Not the end of the world. Would have been neat if the biometric boarding had actually worked for me.

-FlyerBeek
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Old Apr 14, 21, 6:18 pm
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Is the goal eventually (after successful trial) for biometric boarding to take place w/o the registration component? I had a good experience with biometric boarding on DL a couple of years ago w/o the need to register ahead of time...come to think of it, I hadn't become aware of the alternative boarding process until I had arrived at the gate.

I still have concerns and hesitancy on the overall use of biometric application, but that's would be for a different discussion thread.
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Old Apr 14, 21, 7:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Repooc17 View Post
Is the goal eventually (after successful trial) for biometric boarding to take place w/o the registration component?
I certainly hope so (or at least a one-time registration process that is saved in your profile). Otherwise, it makes no sense scanning a passport/license and taking a photo at check-in before every domestic flight just so you don't have to scan a boarding pass at the gate.

-FlyerBeek
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Old Apr 14, 21, 7:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Repooc17 View Post
Is the goal eventually (after successful trial) for biometric boarding to take place w/o the registration component? I had a good experience with biometric boarding on DL a couple of years ago w/o the need to register ahead of time...come to think of it, I hadn't become aware of the alternative boarding process until I had arrived at the gate.
How did Delta have your biometrics if you didn't register?
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Old Apr 14, 21, 8:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Doppy View Post
How did Delta have your biometrics if you didn't register?
It taps and matches with the Federal database (CBP, I think), and that's where some of my concerns lie - e.g. privacy.
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Old Apr 15, 21, 12:43 am
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Not to worry. I’m sure there is a plan for when the system decides to go on break during the boarding process. :-)
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Old Apr 15, 21, 1:49 am
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If I recall correctly, UA did this back in late 2020 at IAD for a IAD-ZRH flight.
No registration. Announcement: "Today we're going to board using biometrics...."
At the time I was surprised how this could possibly work (how did it recognize all passengers by their face?), and slightly concerned that everyone had to remove their mask.
Unlike OP of this thread, it worked fast back then, and the boarding line was moving at a decent pace, although slower than scanning boarding passes, IMO. I recall them having more than one biometric scanner running at the same time.
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Old Apr 15, 21, 6:21 am
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
LH has been using this in Boston for 2 years. It works well. Nothing you need to do. You show up and board. Pretty easy Glad UA is rolling this out.
Same for the LH flights out of MCO.
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Old Apr 15, 21, 9:02 am
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I boarded a UA flight IAH to PVR using the biometric back in January or March 2021. No pre registration needed. After scanning my face it showed my boarding pass on the screen as well. I am only guessing it knew who I was based on my passport photo that was already lingering somewhere in UA's system.
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Old Apr 15, 21, 10:41 am
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As others have noted, this technology is usually used for international flights, so the airline has people's passport photos. You can certainly opt out of boarding biometrically but your data/photo is transmitted to the airline days in advance whether you like it or not.

Sounds like OP's flight was domestic, which explains the pre registration part.

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019...ition-check-in
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Old Apr 15, 21, 11:04 am
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Originally Posted by sexykitten7 View Post
As others have noted, this technology is usually used for international flights, so the airline has people's passport photos. You can certainly opt out of boarding biometrically but your data/photo is transmitted to the airline days in advance whether you like it or not.

Sounds like OP's flight was domestic, which explains the pre registration part.

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019...ition-check-in
as a CLEAR/Global Entry user, and having both my passports scanned into the United system, this makes logical sense to bake into the end to end travel process.

The CLEAR system works well, although sometimes the (IAH terminal C) GS line is quicker...

if regular TSA could add it too...

interesting that you have to take your mask off... I though biometric was Retna scan (with CLEAR) while the SITA method sounds like facial recognition... which makes sense if they’re going off DL/passport photos
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