20:28 PM

Now boarding at TPA: Biometric screening for departing passengers

After a years-long pilot program, biometric screening is now ready for use at some of Tampa International Airport's gates.

Implementing this technology for departures is one of the latest initiatives TPA has undertaken to improve efficiency, safety and convenience during the boarding process.

Currently, the Airport has eight biometric scanners installed, exclusively at international airline gates, with several more on the way. biometric

“By 2024, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has mandated that all U.S. international flights use biometric scanners," TPA IT Analyst David Golden said. “The ones we’ve been implementing at TPA will replace, in many cases, the traditional boarding pass scanners.” 

The process for using this new technology is simple: When someone walks up to the gate, the biometric scanner will take a photo, compare that with the passport photo on file with CBP, ensure the passenger’s name is on the flight manifest and will clear or reject the passenger – all within five seconds. As soon as the automatic gates open for the passenger to pass through, they will immediately close before the next passenger is able to board. The biometric scanner has the capability to prevent piggybacking and can also be modified for those needing to use a wheelchair. tpa bio1

As an example of how quickly this technology can speed up the boarding process, a plane carrying approximately 130 passengers will be able to board in 11 minutes. The current average boarding time for an aircraft of that size is approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

Golden said that in many aspects, TPA is already ahead of the biometric curve.

“We are joining thebiometrics22 ranks of other major airports using this new technology to speed up and simplify the airport experience," Golden said. "Multiple airlines are currently working with the Airport to implement this new process and our goal is to have multiple biometric scanners in use soon.” 

As TPA looks to the future, passengers can expect an even more seamless experience traveling through the Airport, regardless of the destination. Within the next 10 to 15 years, TPA expects to have the technology in place for passengers to use biometrics to check a bag, use the shuttles, pass through TSA and board a flight, all without needing a paper boarding pass. 

“The future is here,” Golden said. “And the future is amazing.”