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Your next JetBlue boarding pass might be your face

The airline is partnering with US Customs and Border Protection to begin using face scans in lieu of boarding passes.

Shara Tibken/CNET

Testing this month, JetBlue's new boarding process uses biometric face scans in lieu of boarding passes.

JetBlue

Whether you print it out or pull it up on your phone, the humble boarding pass is a tried and true means of airplane access. It'll soon have some new competition, though: the very faces of the flyers waiting to get on board.

The move comes from the airline JetBlue, which is partnering with US Customs and Border Protection to launch a face-scanning pilot program for flights between Boston's Logan International Airport and and Aruba's Queen Beatrix International Airport starting as soon as this month. Flyers don't need to enroll or preregister to opt in -- they'll just step up to the camera at their gate during the boarding process for a quick scan and a comparison with the computer's database of passport photos.

"We hope to learn how we can further reduce friction points in the airport experience, with the boarding process being one of the hardest to solve," said JetBlue's executive vice president customer experience, Joanna Geraghty. "Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks. Just look into the camera and you're on your way."

JetBlue claims that it's the first time that an airline has partnered with the CBP to use biometric facial recognition to identify passengers at the gate. Global IT provider SITA is providing the technology needed to implement the face scans and integrate the CBP's security database with JetBlue's departure control system.

"What we want to deliver is a secure and seamless passenger experience," said Jim Peters, SITA's chief technology officer. "This is the first integration of biometric authorization by the CBP with an airline and may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across US airports."