Club Traveler

Get in the Know: Travel Industry Changes, Improvements

Check out these industry changes and improvements that could affect you on the fly.

Paperless Customs Process Expands

If you’ve traveled internationally recently, you may have noticed a paperless trend. Filling out a declarations form with pen and paper is becoming a thing of the past. The first U.S. airport to roll out paperless customs was Chicago O’Hare in 2013, but today dozens of airports across the globe offer automated passport control in place of paper forms. Most recently, in April, Vancouver International Airport’s customs launched digital declarations.

JetBlue, TSA and Delta Test Biometric ID

JetBlue and Delta are the first U.S. carriers to begin testing biometric identification of passengers in lieu of a paper or mobile boarding pass.

In June, JetBlue began a 45- to 90-day test allowing passengers the option to provide a biometric facial scan in place of a traditional pass when boarding flights from Boston to Aruba. Using data supplied by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and a technology platform outfitted by global IT provider SITA, the facial scans identify passengers and could assist in streamlining boarding. If the test is successful, JetBlue might expand facial scans to multiple touch points in the customer’s journey.

Infographic courtesy of JetBlue.

Similarly, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) hopes to automate the document checking process, and in June began installing fingerprint readers in order to test biometric identification and boarding passes. The goal of the program is to allow flyers registered in the system—via a Trusted Traveler Program, like Global Entry—to scan their fingerprints instead of waiting in line for an agent to check their photo IDs and boarding passes. Initial testing is taking place in Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Denver International Airport (DEN), where TSA PreCheck travelers can opt into the testing. However, those who opt into the fingerprint scans during the testing phase will still be subject to standard paper document checking, so don’t put your IDs and boarding passes away just yet!

At Washington National Airport (DCA), Delta is also testing biometric techniques. During phase one, which is underway, eligible Delta SkyMiles members can use their fingerprints in place of presenting a paper or mobile boarding pass and a hard copy ID at the airline’s lounge. Phase two would allow Delta’s loyalty members to also use their fingerprints when checking a bag and boarding an aircraft at DCA.