(22/02/23) Air Canada has launched a pilot project that enables travellers to use facial recognition technology to confirm their identification.
The system is designed to make the overall travel and airport experience more seamless and enjoyable for customers, whilst also assisting the airline and airport with security and staffing issues.
Air Canada’s digital identification is now available for customers departing from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) when boarding select flights to Winnipeg, and for eligible customers entering the Air Canada Café at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ).
The national carrier plans to expand digital identification to more airports and Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada as part of the trial phase.
Air Canada Boeing 787-9 reg: C-FKSV flying from LHR to YYZ. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com
“Our government and Canadian airlines and airports are eager to move forward with innovative solutions and technologies to modernize the traveller journey in airports across the country, which would enable a more seamless and efficient air transportation system,” said Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport – Government of Canada. “Air Canada’s pilot project will speed up processes at YVR, and other airports where it’s established, while respecting robust privacy measures and security standards. This project has great potential in making gate boarding easier and faster for Canadian passengers, while maintaining strong safety measures.”
Customers eligible to utilize the Air Canada Café in Toronto and customers on select flights from Vancouver to Winnipeg will receive an invitation to use the digital identification option, and instructions on how to create their secure digital faceprint prior to arriving at the airport.
Those who do not wish to utilize digital identification may simply board as they currently do now by presenting their boarding pass and government-issued photo ID for manual ID check and processing.
Likewise, customers can continue to scan their boarding cards manually as they do now to enter the Air Canada Café at Toronto Pearson.
Digital identification is a single enrollment feature on the Air Canada app. Biometric data is encrypted and stored only on the traveller’s mobile phone and they must provide additional consent for the data to be used day of travel and that will only be retained for up to 36 hours subject to Air Canada’s privacy and security standards.
“Many of our customers already utilize digital credentials to simplify their daily activities such as unlocking mobile phones, entering workplaces, verifying identification during financial transactions and more,” said Craig Landry, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Air Canada. “We are very excited to now take a leadership position in Canada and test digital identification using facial recognition technology to validate customer identification quickly, securely and accurately at select airport touchpoints. Customers choosing to use digital identification will benefit from a simplified and seamless process at the gate and when entering our Maple Leaf Lounges.”
Air Canada’s digital identification is strictly an optional, consent-based Air Canada program. It is not related to any government-sponsored program like NEXUS, Global Entry or US CBP Mobile Passport Control (MPC).