SJC Airport is Fully Committed to Facial Biometrics

Image via Mineta San José International Airport

APEX Insight: Mineta San Jose International Airport is working in partnership with US Customs and Border Protection on implementing facial recognition technology to facilitate the arrival and departure of all international travelers.

Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is the first airport on the west of the United States to commit to processing all arriving and departing international travelers using facial biometric recognition technology.

Working with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), SJC began a new enhanced entry process on June 25. The new process uses a facial biometric matching service built by CBP to support airport and airline stakeholder integration for biometric exit, entry and other passenger services.

Moving forward, SJC plans to implement biometric scanners for all departing travelers at its seven gates this fall as part of the biometric exit mandate. In a joint written statement, both parties said they expect the new technology will increase efficiency at the airport, which has seen international arrivals grow from 199,900 in 2015 to 438,800 in 2017.

Discussing the airport’s plans during a panel discussion on biometrics at APEX TECH in January, SJC’s deputy director of Innovation and Business Development, Rebecca Baer, stated, “We have a vision at San Jose to be a leading airport in technology, and what it means is that seamless, paperless, less stressful travel experience that passengers are really asking for.”

“Silicon Valley is at the forefront of transforming the travel experience through biometrics” – Kevin McAleenan, CBP.

The panel discussion was led by Dr. Joe Leader, CEO of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), who commented, “As we enter 2018, we are entering the age of the biometric airport.” He added that with facial recognition technology, “passengers are going to be able to board without a boarding pass […] This technology already exists today. Your passport will become a backup document in the next ten years.”

The introduction of biometrics is part of broader improvements being made across SJC. Having already opened three new gates since fall 2017, the airport was recently granted permission to build an interim facility with four additional boarding gates in time for summer 2019. In June 2018, it was announced SJC would receive a $10.2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration for apron reconstruction.

“As one of the nation’s main regions of innovation, Silicon Valley is at the forefront of transforming the travel experience through biometrics,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “CBP is excited to partner with SJC, which serves as another example of what we can achieve by advancing the entry-exit mandate through public-private collaboration, adding benefits for travelers and stakeholders across the air travel ecosystem.”