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28/02/2023 By : Tayla-Jane Nelson

Air Canada launches digital identification; first airline to test facial recognition technology for identification verification in Canada

  • Pilot underway at YVR on select flights to Winnipeg, and at the Air Canada Café at Toronto Pearson
  • Digital credentials securely encrypted via the Air Canada mobile app
  • Passenger airport experience enhanced through paperless, seamless boarding option

MONTREAL, Feb. 21, 2023 /CNW/ - Air Canada announced it has launched digital identification, becoming the first airline in Canada with approval to offer customers the safety and convenience of a new option using facial recognition technology to confirm identification. In a pilot project currently underway, Air Canada's digital identification is now available for customers departing from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) when boarding select flights to Winnipeg, and for eligible customers entering the Air Canada Café at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Air Canada plans to expand digital identification options to select Canadian airports and Maple Leaf Lounges as part of its pilot project phase.

"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. We are very excited to now take a leadership position in Canada and test digital identification using facial recognition technology to validate customer identification quickly, securely and accurately at select airport touchpoints. Participation in digital identification is voluntary. Customers choosing to use digital identification will benefit from a simplified and seamless process at the gate and when entering our Maple Leaf Lounges," said Craig Landry, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Air Canada.

"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. Air Canada's pilot project will speed up processes at YVR, and other airports where it's established, while respecting robust privacy measures and security standards. This project has great potential in making gate boarding easier and faster for Canadian passengers, while maintaining strong safety measures," said the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport – Government of Canada.

Customers eligible to utilize the Air Canada Café in Toronto and customers on select flights from Vancouver to Winnipeg will receive an invitation to use the digital identification option, and instructions on how to create their secure digital faceprint prior to arriving at the airport.

Customers who do not wish to utilize digital identification may simply board as they currently do now by presenting their boarding pass and government-issued photo ID for manual ID check and processing. Likewise, customers may elect to continue scanning their boarding cards manually as they do now to enter the Air Canada Café at Toronto Pearson.

Digital identification is a single enrollment feature on the Air Canada app.  Biometric data is encrypted and stored only on the customer's mobile phone. Customers must provide additional consent for the data to be used day-of travel and will only be retained for up to 36 hours subject to Air Canada's rigorous privacy and security standards.  More information about digital identification is here.   

Air Canada's digital identification is strictly an optional, consent-based Air Canada program. It is not related to any government-sponsored program like NEXUS, Global Entry or US CBP Mobile Passport Control (MPC).

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