JetBlue president and CEO Joanna Geraghty onstage at APEX EXPO 2019

JetBlue’s president and CEO, Joanna Geraghty. image: Vance Walstra

These days, biometric data is used for ID checks and international flight boarding. In the near future, it could redefine the airport experience if JetBlue president and COO Joanna Geraghty gets her way. In a wide-ranging keynote interview, Geraghty offered details on what that could look like for JetBlue and its passengers.

Citing that travel-related stress affects 90 percent of passengers at the airport, Geraghty said she wants to smooth out that part of the journey with biometric solutions. “If we can create an environment where you can walk right through check-in to security to the gate – that can revolutionize the experience.” But it is not just about getting through those government-mandated checkpoints. “Our focus has been on extending the biometric solution to the entire traveling public, so you don’t have to pay money to be part of the program,” she added.

“Our focus has been on extending the biometric solution to the entire traveling public, so you don’t have to pay money to be part of the program” – Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue.

Geraghty also acknowledged the privacy challenges associated with the systems. Passengers have overwhelmingly participated in the biometric check-in option so far, but it is unclear if this is because they are keen to be part of the new system or because they didn’t know what it involved. There are also challenges associated with implementing the process for domestic travel because the photo-match databases are not as comprehensive. Geraghty suggested that JetBlue aims to address that problem, though no further details were offered.

Regarding the planned London service from New York City and Boston, Geraghty said the airline is still targeting for a launch date in Q1 2021. She repeated the carrier’s position regarding difficulty gaining access to congested airports, including Heathrow, saying that the slots are “extremely expensive and that’s not something we’re willing to pay.” Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports are also options for the company. “The JetBlue experience will work well – in different ways – at all those airports,” she added.