Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Norwegian Begins Biometric Boarding at LAX

The new boarding process aims to cut waste and enhance departure speed

by Business Traveler

July 17, 2019

Flying internationally from LAX? You may become one of the more than 500,000 passengers so far to put away the paper and have your face scanned instead as you board that flight to Barcelona – or Oslo.

On July 11, the first flight of Norwegian Air using facial recognition for boarding left from Los Angeles airport to Barcelona. Already more than half a million international passengers have been recognized with their face to board paperless in LAX. However, Norwegian Air is the first low-cost long-haul carrier introducing this fast and secure next generation facial boarding technology. A simple gaze at a camera opens the eGate to board the airplane.

Norwegian Air was the tenth airline to successfully go live with the contactless biometric self-boarding solution at LAX, joining Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines.

“Norwegian thrives on innovation as we continue to disrupt the conventions of air travel. Several years ago, we arrived in the U.S. with low fares and new planes. We’ve been named ‘most fuel-efficient’ airline twice by the International Council for Clean Transportation— reducing carbon footprint and sustainability matter to us,” Bjørn Erik Barman-Jenssen, Managing Director Support Services at Norwegian Air. “Adopting paperless boarding with biometric technology is the right step for our environment, and will create a seamless experience.”

The biometric self-boarding solution has been running since 2017 in the scope of the US Biometric Exit trial program and following a partnership between Vision-Box, Los Angeles World Airports Authority (LAWA) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

The practice is receiving rave reviews from most travelers but mixed reviews as a practice as false identity matches are a frequent occurrence and few parameters have been set for law enforcement uses.

Face Time

How the biometric boarding platform works: The passenger approaches a self-boarding eGate. A biometric-enabled camera ergonomically integrated in the eGate captures the passenger’s facial image.

The image is securely sent to the CBP TVS (Traveler Verification Service), which conducts a matching process with the stored digital facial token, captured at the initial immigration process or from the US passport. Within seconds the system reconciles the passenger identity and his eligibility to enter the flight. The positive match of both verifications triggers to open the eGate doors and the passenger can board the airplane.

Security and Efficiency

The system is based on Vision-Box’s Traveler flow platform, enabling data exchange for a fast and seamless process. The system seeks to confirm the identity of boarding passengers and the authenticity of their documents by utilizing databases from the Department of Homeland Security CBP Traveler Verification Service.

Norwegian is the world’s fifth largest low-cost airline and operates more than 500 routes to over 150 destinations in Europe, North Africa, Middle East, North and South America. Its fleet of some 162 aircraft, have an average age of 3.8 years on them, making it one of the world’s youngest and “greenest” airline companies.