Newark Airport speeds up boarding for NJ travelers going abroad
NEWARK — You're leaving for a trip abroad. You arrived at the airport way ahead of time. You checked your bags, went through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, put your shoes back on, got to your gate, waited, and now you're ready to board.
All of a sudden, you can't find your boarding pass ... or your passport.
Someday, that might not matter. And even right now it doesn't, if you happen to be boarding at Gate 62 of Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Raymond Viggiano, supervisor of the international facility at the airport for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said that terminal, which is home to the majority of EWR's foreign flight carriers, is where a self-boarding pilot program is being run through the end of August.
The biometric screening system at Gate 62 makes use of a uniquely personal piece of information Customs and Border Protection already has on file for all U.S. travelers leaving the country.
"You're actually using your face as your boarding pass," Viggiano said. "So it takes a fraction of a second for the passengers to step up to the unit, it takes a picture of you, and that is reflected in your boarding pass."
According to Viggiano, the design and aim of this self-boarding process is simplistic, straightforward, and seamless.
"A majority of the time, what happens is as somebody's approaching an agent, they're fumbling around in their bags, they're looking for their boarding pass which they previously used at TSA and now they don't know where they put it," Viggiano said. "Everybody is a little bit frantic when they're going through the airport. Similar to the TSA, you have to get out your documentation. What we're trying to do is make everything easier for everyone."
The idea was in development prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the desire for more contactless services over the last 18 months spurred the effort forward.
"It's just a better customer experience overall, making things much easier for the passenger," Viggiano said. "Minimizing contact is always something that the Port Authority does as a whole, and that's really what's come of the pandemic."
Although nothing similar is currently in the works for boarding domestic flights, as biometric screening is not a requirement, Viggiano said that could eventually be considered.