The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the US is piloting a biometric self-boarding e-gate at the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to improve the customer experience.

The new system is being trialled at Gate 62 of Terminal B and will be evaluated until 31 August 2021, before wider implementation.

For this pilot programme, the agency is working with hardware provider EASIER and software provider Idemia.

It is also working alongside Lufthansa, which has integrated the e-gate into its departure control system.

EWR International Facility supervisor Raymond Viggiano said: “The passenger walks right up to the e-gate, which takes a biometric scan and confirms a passenger is okay to board. There’s very little interaction needed there.”

Usually during the boarding process, the passengers wait in line while the attendant scans boarding passes and passports.

Scanning a passenger’s face, the new biometric system will not only save time but also limit physical contact, thereby addressing safety concerns amid the pandemic.

The Port Authority also said that the facial biometric system works in tandem with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to cross-reference images.

Images of the passenger captured by the biometric system before boarding must match with the images in CBP’s existing database, which all passport holders have already entered.

Upon receiving CBP’s confirmation, the airline deletes all scans within 12 hours, Viggiano stated.

Viggiano added: “The entire process takes seconds; it’s that quick. It’s just a really nice flow and passenger experience.”

The Port Authority and its airport partners intend to implement the biometric scanners in a phased manner, starting with the international gates and gradually across all of Terminal B.

Until the pilot is completed, the agency will continue to collect data that compares the speed of boarding with biometrics with the traditional emplaning procedure.