Digital ID Via Facial Recognition Can Now Be Used on Select Air Canada Flights

Digital ID Via Facial Recognition Can Now Be Used on Select Air Canada Flights
An Air Canada jet takes off from Trudeau Airport in Montreal on June 30, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)
Noé Chartier

Air Canada announced on Feb. 21 that digital identification using facial recognition technology can now be used to board select flights from Vancouver to Winnipeg and to get access to its café at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The program is touted as secure and convenient, with a planned expansion to other airports and Air Canada lounges.

“Many of our customers already utilize digital credentials to simplify their daily activities such as unlocking mobile phones, entering workplaces, verifying identification during financial transactions and more,” Craig Landry, executive vice president and chief operations officer at Air Canada, said in statement.

Currently, customers need to show a boarding pass and a piece of physical ID to board a flight.

The process to create and use a digital ID using biometrics involves installing the Air Canada app, taking a picture of one’s passport photo with a smartphone, scanning the chip with the smartphone, and finally taking a selfie to upload into the app.

When boarding a flight, one then has to present one’s face to a biometric reader. The process is illustrated in a video posted online by Air Canada.

Air Canada says the program is voluntary and the biometric data captured by the app is encrypted and stored on the customer’s device. It says the data is only retained for up to 36 hours.

The new development was welcomed by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

“Our government and Canadian airlines and airports are eager to move forward with innovative solutions and technologies to modernize the traveller journey in airports across the country, which would enable a more seamless and efficient air transportation system,” he said.

Alghabra says the use of digital ID will speed up processes while respecting privacy and security standards.

The minister has overseen other digital ID projects, such as the World Economic Forum initiative Known Traveller Digital Identity.

This project is being closed out, as per Transport Canada and involved Air Canada and Dutch entities.

The Dutch government recently told The Epoch Times it will launch a new digital credential project with Canada in the coming weeks.