Narita to become first airport in Japan to use facial recognition for boarding instead of document checks

JIJI, Staff Report

The operator of Narita International Airport near Tokyo said Thursday it will introduce in spring 2020 a facial recognition technology-based system that enables passengers to board planes, after check-in, without showing their passports or boarding passes.

Narita will be the first airport in the nation to adopt a system that does not require passengers to pause for identification when boarding, according to Narita International Airport Corp.

The operator hopes that the system will improve convenience for passengers ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Passengers will first have photos taken of their faces at self check-in kiosks where they enter passport and boarding pass information.

High-performance cameras set up at the baggage drop-off counters, safety inspection areas and boarding gates will track the passengers and check their identity against the registered photos as they make their way through the boarding process.

While passports and boarding tickets will not be manually checked at such locations, passengers will still have to go through existing procedures at immigration control.

Final details of the boarding process when using facial recognition are yet to be confirmed, and it was not clear whether travelers would be able to choose to board using conventional, non-biometric screening.

After working out any initial flaws, the airport operator plans to introduce the system first for flights operated by All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, and then for other airlines in stages.

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