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2 Italian Airports Will Scan Travelers' Faces Instead of Requiring a Passport

Italy Airports + Flying
by Morgane Croissant May 13, 2024

While you can’t ditch your passport just yet, advances in facial recognition technology are slowly but surely making physical identity documents obsolete. Case in point: Two Italian airports, Milan Linate and Catania airports, are currently trialing FaceBoarding, a facial recognition system that allows travelers to go through security checkpoints without having to show their passport or identity card or their boarding pass.

FaceBoarding is a straight-forward process. After checking in for their flights, whether online or at the check-in counter, travelers at these two airports can make their way to the FaceBoarding kiosk where they’ll be prompted to scan they identity document, their boarding pass, and their face. After doing so, those travelers will be able to breeze through dedicated lines for all the airport security checkpoints, never having to take out their passport of boarding pass again.

Well, almost. Unless they are flying with ITA or SAS, the only two airlines that have joined the FaceBoarding service so far, those same travelers will have to show their documents before boarding the aircraft.

Currently, travelers can register for FaceBoarding for just one flight or for the entire duration of the trial, i.e. until December 2025. They can do so at the FaceBoarding kiosk during the registration process. Note that air travelers can choose to go through the airport experience the old-fashioned way; there is no obligation to use FaceBoarding.

To make FaceBoarding even easier, an app is in the works, allowing travelers to register from home. The FaceBoarding app is scheduled to be operational in June 2024.

The goal of FaceBoarding is to reduce lines in airport and speed up the airport experience, but facial recognition technology, also known as biometric-based identification, can also improve security by limiting passport fraud.

Biometrics data are already used in airports and international train stations around the world to shorten immigration lines. By taking a photo of your face and matching it to the one on your passport, your identity is quickly and safely confirmed without the need for a border agent to check manually.

The introduction of facial recognition technology like FaceBoarding, while streamlining the process of going through security checkpoints, does not mean you can show up at the airport without your passport or identity card. For now, you still need to have your documents on your person while traveling — or you won’t be going anywhere.

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