By Christine Kern, contributing writer
In news this week, the airlines test biometrics for boarding and passenger access, while President Trump’s apprenticeship executive order is applauded as a new avenue for training by the NRA.
Biometric Boarding Passes In Beta Test With JetBlue and Delta
JetBlue Airways Corp. and Delta Air Lines Inc. have announced that they will begin beta testing of biometric identification in lieu of boarding passes at two U.S. airport locations, according to Bloomberg. The paperless, deviceless process is an effort to increase security and make travel through airports easier for passengers. The JetBlue program began this month on flights from Boston to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport, and it matches passenger photos to the ones on their passport or visa. Delta has been testing fingerprint identification processes in Washington to eventually supplant boarding passes. According to a company statement, JetBlue is the first airline to integrate with the U.S., Customs and Border Protection 9CBP) to implement biometrics and facial recognition technology for the boarding process.
Jim Peters, chief technology officer, SITA, said: “This biometric self-boarding program for JetBlue and the CBP is designed to be easy to use. What we want to deliver is a secure and seamless passenger experience. We use sophisticated technologies to enable biometric checks and for CBP authorization to be sent quickly to the airline’s systems. This is the first integration of biometric authorization by the CBP with an airline and may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across US airports.”
If the tests go well, it could mean the expansion of biometric passenger clearance methods across airlines, which would ease congestion and confusion during the boarding process. Delta also plans to test a self-service process using facial recognition to check bags, according to the Seattle Times. Delta has also been testing the use of fingerprint identification technology to approve access to its Sky Club lounges. Currently, the tests are limited to SkyMiles members enrolled in Clear, a subscription service that utilizes biometrics to process passengers through airport checkpoints. The European carrier KLM instituted facial recognition technology in February of this year for passengers boarding at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
“We hope to learn how we can further reduce friction points in the airport experience, with the boarding process being one of the hardest to solve,” explained Joanna Geraghty, executive vice president customer experience, JetBlue. “Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks. Just look into the camera and you’re on your way.”
CBP looks forward to engaging closely with air travel partners, like JetBlue, to better understand how CBP’s biometric exit program will support their efforts to streamline the travel process by using advanced biometric technology,” said CBP’s Office of Field Operations, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, John Wagner. “By transforming current business operations, airlines and airports will have the opportunity to use verified biometrics to ensure a seamless and consistent process for travelers.”
“We’re rapidly moving toward a day when your fingerprint, iris or face will become the only ID you’ll need for any number of transactions throughout a given day,” Gil West, Delta chief operating officer, said in the statement.
Trump Apprenticeship Executive Order Lauded By NRA
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) applauded President Donald Trump’s executive order that allows for the streamlining and expansion of industry apprenticeship programs. The NRA already has a hospitality program underway, which will be fostered by this new executive order, according to The Nation’s Restaurant News. The order is designed to boost the number of U.S. apprenticeships available by doubling the amount of money invested by the government in apprenticeship programs. Currently, only about 500,000 apprenticeships exist, a very small number when compared to the size of the U.S. economy.
President Trump stated that the order was designed to celebrate “the dignity of work,” as he signed the decree. The plan would reduce red tape and rigid requirements for administration of apprenticeships and encourages broad-based industry standards for them. While there is no target for the ideal number of apprenticeships to be created via this program, in March, Trump responded to a challenge from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, agreeing that “5 million apprenticeships in the next five years” was a great goal.
The NRA sees this program as a positive move. In February, The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the American Hotel & Lodging Association signed a $1.8 million contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to launch the national Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship project. In its first year, the project hopes to employ 450 apprentices in management-level positions across the hospitality and food service industries.
“We are excited about working with the administration to help create more job and career opportunities in the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry through apprenticeship,” said Rob Gifford, the NRAEF’s executive vice president, in a statement.
“The foundation has already begun working with the industry to develop and implement an apprenticeship program that provides the skills and training needed for career advancement across multiple management positions,” he said.
Apprenticeship programs provide affordable education and job training opportunities in hospitality management, according to NRA CEO and president Dawn Sweeney. “With today’s executive order, we will have even more opportunities to help employees in the hospitality industry move up the ladder for fulfilling and rewarding careers,” she asserted.