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American Airlines Scans Passports via NFC Mobile App

International airline check-in automation has taken a step forward with the adoption of NFC technology to recognize passports.
By Edson Perin
Dec 23, 2019

Automating airline check-in operations has not been new for at least a decade. Gradually, companies have been trying to reduce long passenger queues at airport counters as travelers wait to receive their boarding passes. As such, self-service kiosks are increasingly proliferating at airports.

In this movement, along with enhancing smartphone capabilities and app advancements, airlines have begun offering mobile phone check-in tools along with their customer-loyalty plans. In addition to making life easier for passengers, this ensures access to mile-point programs. The big challenge was in reading passports via an app and thereby enabling travelers to hand over their boarding pass (a QR code on a smartphone screen) electronically.

For those checking in on an international flight, American Airlines (AA) has almost completely eliminated the need to visit an airport kiosk. The airline has added passport scanning to its mobile app, making it the first to offer passport chip scanning. With this initiative, the company has taken a step forward in improving the experience of its customers.

With the system, travelers can securely transmit information directly via a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip embedded in their passport. This allows customers to proceed directly to a departure gate for international flights without having documents checked by a customer service agent at the airport counter. The system eliminates the need for passengers to visit a lobby kiosk, AA explains, noting that the new feature utilizes secure passport chip technology for international boarding to make the check-in process faster. Passports worldwide are being standardized with NFC, using a system designed to speed up passenger entry and exit processes for border authorities.

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