American Airlines among airlines testing touchless technologies as air travel spikes


Dallas-Fort Worth based American Airlines are among several airlines hoping to ease COVID-19 concerns as more and more people book travel.

As reported on Good Morning America, AA is currently testing biometric boarding at DFW airport for some international flights. Instead of scanning a boarding pass, travelers can scan their faces at a kiosk that verifies their identity with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the gate.

The airline says they hope to expand this technology to domestic flights in the next few months. They also hope to make the technology a part of other points throughout the airport experience such as baggage drop.

"We really want to have an easy customer experience when customers can come back for travel," American Airlines Vice President of Customer Experience Julie Rath said in an interview.

"Through the pandemic, many customers stopped traveling. They're coming back to travel, though there's more complexities, and we just want to make it easier for them."

The spike in travel continues to increase with the highest number of travelers since before the pandemic seen just this past weekend. A 1.3 million were screened by TSA on Friday and Sunday.

American's CEO Doug Parker said Monday that they are "getting to a point" where bookings are "coming up very close to what we've seen in the past."

"We're really optimistic for the summer," Rath said. "The last three weeks have been our best booking weeks since the pandemic started."

Other touchless technologies out there include Delta Airlines' on-board payment system, "tap-to-pay technology" without swiping or handing a flight attendant a credit card. While United Airlines is offering fliers QR codes that they can scan with their phones to connect them virtually with an agent, rather than speaking to one in person at the airport.

Regardless of all these technologies and the efforts to avoid contact between passengers and flight crews as well as with surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still is advising against travel despite the increase number of people getting their COVID vaccines.

"Every time that there's a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week during a briefing.

"We know that many of our variants have emerged from international places, and we know that the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot."