WestJet and TELUS have trialled Trusted Boarding, a touchless process that uses safe and secure facial verification technology to verify travellers' identity prior to boarding a flight.
The trial was the first-of-its-kind in Canada and took place at Calgary International Airport (YYC) on Wednesday (Nov. 24).
"The travel experience is evolving to include many touchless processes and WestJet is innovating to ensure our guests' travel journey improves to become more seamless and efficient, while prioritizing safety above all," said Stuart McDonald, executive vice-president and chief information officer. "The Trusted Boarding trial is a union between technology and WestJet that would in the future help our agents and our guests with contactless document validation."
Biometric boarding technology
The trial demonstrated that the "responsible use of biometric boarding technology provides sufficient document validation and prevents non-authorized individuals from boarding an aircraft," WestJet says.
Trial guests boarded WestJet flight 8901 through facial verification with their digital identity wallet on Embross' Canadian made biometric hardware and boarding application at Gate 88.
The trial marked the first step towards the implementation of the technology as WestJet works with the Government of Canada to seek full approval for its use as a safe and secure alternative for future WestJet boarding at Canadian airports.
"As air travel gradually reopens, the passenger experience continues to evolve. Our groundbreaking, built in Canada solution allows travellers to enjoy a secure, touchless identity verification experience, while ensuring they are able to maintain control of their personal data," said Ibrahim Gedeon, chief technology officer at TELUS. "This level of control establishes and increases consumer trust by addressing privacy, security, and ethical data risks from the start, while providing transparency to customers."
Trusted Boarding employs a self-sovereign identity ecosystem (the creation of unique, private and secure connections between two trusted parties) through a TELUS-provisioned digital identity wallet in a smartphone application for IOS and Android. It provides contactless document validation, where a facial verification scan is matched with a traveller's documentation that has been uploaded to the app prior to boarding.
WestJet and TELUS say the tech ensures users retain control of their personal information at all times.
"They can securely share their verified personal credentials and revoke access when the data is no longer needed," WestJet said.