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PHL Adds Biometric Facial Recognition

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is installing facial biometric technology at 25 boarding gates in Terminals A-East and A-West to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) process departing passengers on international flights safely and efficiently.

Using SITA’s Smart Path solution powered by the NEC I:Delight digital identity management platform, passengers in A-East and A-West step up to a camera at the boarding gate to verify their identity and board in a matter of seconds, all without the need to present a passport or boarding pass. The facial biometrics process is designed to verify travelers’ identities by comparing a live photo to images that the traveler has already provided to the government, such as passport and visa photos.

“The safety and security of our passengers and airport employees are our top priority and require a collaborative effort by the City of Philadelphia Department of Aviation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and our airline partners,” said Keith Brune, PHL chief operating officer. “We are excited to move forward with the installation of biometric technology at PHL. This system will make the screening process more efficient for everyone and is especially important as international travel continues to grow post-pandemic.”

In partnership with CBP, PHL will install equipment to collect facial biometrics of travelers exiting the U.S. CBP has built the facial biometric matching service that airlines, airports, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can access wherever traveler identity verification is required throughout the air travel journey.

“We are pleased to bring our biometric solution to PHL and help the airport meet the CBP’s mandate for biometric U.S. exit checks,” said Matthys Serfontein, SITA president of the Americas. “With Smart Path, the process is fast, efficient, and eliminates the need to fumble for your passport or boarding card.”

The launch of biometric screening at PHL will occur in three phases. The first set of 10 gates is now operational, with the second set of 10 gates installed mid-January through February, and the remaining five gates in late March through mid-April.