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Biometric boarding trial at YYC

Summary: YYC is piloting an innovative touchless technology for boarding aircraft. 

The Calgary Airport Authority, Air Canada, and Thales Group, a joint technology partner, collaborated on a biometric boarding initiative that launched Jan. 12. This pilot program uses biometric technologies to perform a facial match on a person against their government issued photo ID. The result will be a completely touchless boarding process where no documents are exchanged between the traveller and airline gate agent. 

Air Canada agents will invite passengers to participate in this new boarding process via PA announcements at the gate. Participation is completely voluntary and has been approved by Transport Canada. The same solution is already in production at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is launching next week.  

“We expect to see similar results as YVR with an average Thales [biometric] processing time of less than six seconds and a total passenger processing time of about 15 seconds,” says Derek Costain, General Manager of Airport Systems for The Calgary Airport Authority.  

The technology is installed at Gate C50 and the trial will last six weeks. The plan is to start slowly, with one flight per day during an off-peak time. The daily flight to start is AC215, YYC-YVR with a standard departure time of 11:30 a.m. Air Canada will incentivize participation in the trial by allowing passengers who volunteer to board first. Since the trial hardware is only capable of scanning driver’s licenses (or NEXUS cards or other similar style photo IDs) and not passports, if the passenger demographic lends itself to the bulk of travellers being international connectors in Vancouver who perhaps don’t have a Canadian driver’s license, then we will work with Air Canada to select an alternate flight for the trial.

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