Alaska introduces biometric verification for international flights

Alaska introduces biometric verification before international flights
Photo Credit: BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Alaska Airlines is introducing a new, optional, facility for using biometric verification on passports before international flights.

Its new system is being called Mobile Verify by Alaska and anyone using a USA or Canadian passport is eligible.

You must be travelling on an International flight with Alaska Airlines, it only requires a quick setup initially. You must also be able to download their designated app onto your smartphone to use the service.

Passport verification

The app itself is called Airside, created by Onfido, and uses the biometric identity features of passports to confirm the details.

“Alaska has highly loyal guests thanks to the quality of their service and their commitment to consumer privacy,” said Adam Tsao, General Manager for Airside at Onfido.

“We’re proud Airside is helping deliver on this commitment and empower all those who travel on Alaska Airlines with fast, private, and easy airport experiences by putting digital identities in the hands of their flyers.”

Alaska’s long term vision is for guests to be able to seamlessly travel through airports without physical document checks.

In order to achieve this they have engaged Airside to securely verify a passport before arriving at the airport.

You can do this from home or in the taxi on the way to the airport should you wish. Alaska are keen to reinforce however that it is entirely optional.


First Use of Airside

The first time you need to use the app you will need to install it then complete a setup consisting of:

  • Taking a selfie of your face
  • Taking a picture of your passport photo page
  • Holding your phone to the inside of the passport back cover so it can store the details from the NFC chip.

This then stores the details on your smart phone for whenever you might need it.

Alaska introduces biometric verification before international flights
Photo sourced from Alaska Airlines

Keeping the app for further flights

To use it for any subsequent journeys the process is simplified

  • Open the airside app
  • Select your departure date and location
  • Enter a confirmation code

The system then alerts Alaska that you’ve verified your ID again and won’t be prompted for it at check in.

They’ve produced a short video showing how it works in practice which is available to watch online here via YouTube

Smoothing the airport experience

“We’re reimagining the entire guest experience at our airports with the goal of getting you through the lobby in 5 minutes or less,” said Charu Jain, senior vice president of innovation and merchandising.

“We’re investing in technology that takes processes traditionally only available at an airport and makes them possible from your smartphone.”

“This new Mobile Verify technology creates a seamless airport experience for guests traveling internationally – eliminating the uncertainty that comes with having to wait in airport lines.”

Alaska further said: “The safety and security of our guests and their information is our highest priority.”

“We selected a solution that allows guests to completely control the access to their information – everything lives on your smart phone, and you decide when and where it’s shared.”

“This secure process ensures a high level of privacy while also saving you time.”

Overall, this appears to be a process that will provide dozens of benefits for passengers moving forward.

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By Alex Barrett 4 Min Read
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