Miami International Airport Tests New Technology For International Flights

If you’re flying internationally out of Miami-Dade County Airport, you’ll soon be able to keep that passport in your pocket when you’re going through boarding.

Miami soon will be the first U.S. airport to use biometric boarding at all of its international gates. Rather than showing your passport to head past the counter and onto the plane, passengers will be instantly identified with the touchless click of a camera.

Installation of the machines is set to begin soon and will be completed at all 130 gates by the end of 2023, airport officials said.

“We look forward to elevating our passenger experience with this state-of-the-art boarding solution,” Ralph Cutié, CEO and director of the airport said in a release. 

Cutié noted Miami has become the busiest U.S. airport for international travel, with the number of passengers growing every month.

“Biometric boarding is one of the major steps we are taking to pave the way for additional growth in the years to come,” he said.

Biometric Technology

So what exactly is biometric boarding?

Developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the Department of Homeland Security, the program began following the events of September 11. The 9/11 Commission Report instructed CBP to biometrically confirm visitors in and out of the country.

Technologies have changed in the years that the program began, with facial recognition becoming the solution CBP settled on.

According to CBP, the program is simple:

  • During boarding or arrival, a traveler’s photo is taken wherever they would normally present a passport for inspection.
  • The photo is compared against an existing passport or visa photo.
  • A CBP officer interviews the traveler to validate results, establish the purpose and intent of travel, and determine admissibility.
  • All traveler photos of U.S. citizens are deleted and no photos are ever shared with industry partners.

In the case of the Miami airport, this process is streamlined. The photo is taken and compared, and a gate agent confirms the name matches the one on the boarding pass without CBP’s involvement.

“Biometric Facial Comparison is just one of the many ways we are protecting our borders while delivering a safer, more efficient travel experience,” CBP says.

Anticipation In Miami

This is a program Miami officials are excited to implement.

“The launch of biometric boarding at MIA is the latest way that Miami-Dade County is leveraging technology to improve customer service and simplify operations,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “I am proud to see our airport lead the nation with this cutting-edge innovation that will streamline the boarding process for our passengers.”

SITA, the company responsible for the technology in Miami, said the simplified boarding process will be a big benefit for passengers.

“Globally we see that passengers want a faster journey through the airport where key steps in the journey are automated,” said Matthys Serfontein, president of Americas at SITA. “Our Smart Path biometric solution will enable future expansion to other touchpoints at MIA, as well as the use of multiple forms of digital identity.”

Preparing for international travel? While you’re at it, understand the difference between TSA PreCheck Vs. Clear Vs. Global Entry and consider updating your passport cover!

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