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EVA Air Introduces Biometric Boarding at SFO

Customs and Border Protection program uses facial recognition to facilitate passengers entering and exiting the US

December 3, 2020

Passengers departing San Francisco on Taiwan’s second largest carrier EVA Air now have the option to use US Customs Border Protection’s biometrics exit program when boarding their flight.

CBP’s biometrics facial comparison program is currently used at 26 US airports for travelers exiting the US, and at 21 US airports and four pre-clearance airports internationally to clear passengers entering the country.

The technology securely matches travelers’ faces with their passport or visa photo, according to the CBP website.

Worldwide a number of airports are using similar technology to speed immigration and security processes. In October, Dubai International launched an integrated ‘biometric path’ using a mix of facial and iris recognition technology from check in through immigration to boarding without interacting with airport or airline personnel.

Expanding the use of the entry/exit system is part of Customs and Border Protection’s efforts to move the beyond the pilot stage. CBP filed a new rule proposal last month that would allow the agency to include more ports of entry in the biometric entry-exit system.

EVA Air said it has plans to extend biometrics to its check-in kiosks, self-service baggage drop offs, lounges and boarding gates across its network, including at its Taipei hub. The Star Alliance carrier is also looking to roll out biometrics boarding to five other US gateways, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.

This comes as the Star Alliance is set to roll out a broader adoption of biometrics across all airport touchpoints.

Biometrics can speed up the boarding process and reduce close contact with staff, said the airline. However some critics say the proposed CBP rule changes could lead to more government surveillance and constitute an invasion of privacy.

“Our passengers welcome the ease and added safety benefits of the new service,” according to an EVA Air spokesperson. “We look forward to working in cooperation with CBP to gradually introduce the biometrics program conveniences for both outbound and inbound passengers at all six of our US gateways.”