Air Canada has launched biometric boarding for flights from the US to Canada, ensuring a contactless experience for its customers.

The technology uses facial biometrics to streamline the gate experience. Customers will have their photo taken at the gate, which will then be compared to images and passport document details already provided to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The identity of the passenger will then be verified within “a matter of seconds”, allowing them to board the aircraft in a contactless manner. The airline states that the facial biometrics provide travellers with “a secure, touchless process that streamlines air travel”.

The technology is currently available at San Francisco International airport (SFO), with the airline planning to roll it out to other US airports in the future. The carrier is also exploring options that could be viable at Canadian airports.

Customers who do not want to take part in biometric boarding can board as before by presenting their boarding pass and passport for manual ID processing.

Andrew Yiu, Vice President of Product at Air Canada, commented:

“Air Canada has introduced numerous touchless processes throughout the customer journey, and we are pleased to now offer an optional, innovative biometric boarding choice for customers departing SFO that is seamless, time-saving and convenient while reducing contact and processing time.

“Customers have told us they value streamlined processes and we continue to evaluate and assess additional touchless initiatives to further advance safe and secure travel while enhancing the overall travel experience.”

Diane J. Sabatino, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, added:

“CBP is excited to partner with Air Canada to provide travelers with a secure, touchless process for identity verification as they depart the United States at SFO.

“Along with CBP’s enhanced Simplified Arrival process upon entry at SFO, we are transforming the air travel journey by expanding the use of facial biometrics through public-private partnerships to further secure and enhance the customer experience.”

A number of other airlines have begun using facial biometrics during the travel experience, including Emirates, Etihad AirwaysEVA Air, and Lufthansa.

Air Canada has introduced a number of other contactless measures over the past few months, including touch-free bag check for flights departing Canadian airports and a range of safety measures at its Maple Leaf Lounges. The carrier has also promised to include complimentary Covid-19 insurance for all Canadian residents booking round-trip international flights.