Air New Zealand launches facial recognition verification at boarding gates after successful LAX trial

Goodbye boarding passes, hello biometric facial recognition - Your face is your boarding pass: Air NZ goes biometric at LAX.
Photo credit: Air New Zealand / Getty Images

Air New Zealand is introducing biometric facial recognition verification at its boarding gates in the US after a successful trial at Los Angeles Airport (LAX), the airline has announced.

"Boarding passes will soon be a thing of the past," it said in a statement to media, adding the move is part of its "plan to take the friction out of travel and to make the journey through the airport that much smoother". 

"No sighting passports and no scanning boarding passes."

Last week, passengers flying Air NZ out of LAX were able to board using only their face as a pass, based on biometric information recorded by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as they entered the country.

Air NZ said it can't directly access that personal data, but it can be used by its automated airport kiosks to verify a customer's identity at the time of boarding.

The airline said the technology will next be available at San Francisco International Airport before the other US airports it uses, but did not provide a timeline.

It also did not indicate when airports in Aotearoa or any other country may get facial recognition verification at boarding gates.

But it did say it was part of a plan to become "the world's leading digital airline".

"Contactless technology changes are coming thick and fast and we're continuing to learn and adapt to new innovations that will make travel easier," said Air NZ's chief digital officer Nikhil Ravishankar.

"Using biometrics at the boarding gate is only the beginning and we're in talks with industry players, globally and here in New Zealand, about how we can use biometric technology throughout the whole airport process.

"This is another step towards our ambition to become the world's leading digital airline, and is the result of months of hard mahi, planning and collaboration."